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rugen914

Spellcasting Between Schools

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Greetings and salutations! I have a question about the various schools of magic on Hydaelyn and how people approach their limitations and peculiarities.

 

For ease I want to focus on the three base schools of ARR - Thaumaturgy, Conjury and Arcanism. I would characterize Thaumaturgy and Conjury as being (at least in gameplay terms) two sides of an element-based magic, with different methods of access and a focus on destruction and healing respectively. On the face of it Arcanism seems to be concerned with entropy, both the propogation and reversal of it, and the strategic application of a carbuncle companion.

 

If these characterizations are even remotely accurate, how much can they be said to dictate what a student of any one school can or cannot do within the scope of their studies? I think I'm right in saying that in 1.0 Conjury encompassed the entire elemental wheel, but now they are limited to Earth, Wind and Water. Do these kinds of distinctions inform what your character can do, or are they largely gameplay concessions? Could, for example, an Arcanist learn a spell to conjure a fireball using the Aetherial Geometries, or are they limited to the kind of entropic viruses and unaspected blasts we see in their ability tree? Could a Conjurer cast a spell to put somebody to sleep? Could a Thaumaturge erect a protective shield? To what extent do people allow for the schools of magic to cross-over or use different methods to achieve the same result?

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I have struggled with this myself as my character is attempting to study and master all forms of aetherical manipulation as she calls it instead of magic. I started her as an Arcanist since in that area I feel as there is the most room from creation of our own spells. From all I have learned it would seem that Arcanum, given enough knowledge and time, can do just about anything.  The drawback is that you need to have the Arcanum inscribed on something, typically the codex's they carry around, so unlike THM and CNJ who can  just wish the magic to appear the ACN has to have it pre-ready.  This leads to having to predict what you need and thus a decent drawback to what otherwise I consider a rather OP form of magic.

 

on CNJ and THM I find are much closer to each other them either school wishes to admit and is more based off of what each ones ethos is more then what they can and can not do.

 

CNJ was formed in order to commune with the Elements and allow them to live in the Shroud.  In this they have a more symbiotic relationship with things and tend to shy away from destructive magics so not to upset the Elements.  Still the need for destructive spells exist to deal with dangers in the shroud so they use skills that dont cause much harm to nature, ie. Wind, Earth, Water.

 

THM on the other hand was originally used in the preparations of the dead for Nald'Thal and was later found that its powers were great in the battlefield.  So quiet early they were focused on destruction so we see the use of Fire, Lighting, Ice.

 

I personally dont think there is restrictions to what a CNJ and THM can wield just more of what they prefer to use due to their alignment to the schools Ethos.

What a hedgemage could do would be just about anything within reason.

 

This topic is one of fascination for me and I love to discuss it so anyone feel free to PM me or continue here.

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Magic is actually... composed of the same base universal building blocs, which is aether. All schools have the only difference of offering different ways of casting, learning and weaving spells, etc.

 

As you say, conjury actually offers access to the full spectrum of the elemental wheel (earth, wind, water, fire, ice, thunder). The 2.0 changes are a purely gameplay concession, but can be explained by a shift in the schools themselves: the Ossuary for example, that shifted hands from the old master that got corrupt and used to teach thaumaturgy the way it is portrayed in 1.0,, to the Coco brothers that focus on a way different thing, which is elemental magic, and more precisely, ice fire and thunder. That is not to say that a THM can't cast stone, aero or water spells. The same way that a CNJ can cast fire, ice and thunder, but the thing is... in the way they do it.

 

Thaumaturgy implies using a direct access to a strong aether potential, which is the aetherial body reserves of the individual. It can vary a lot between individuals, and people with enough of it to properly cast magic without killing themselves by draining too much are actually not legion (cf THM questline with the last of the Coco brothers, unable to cast anything, forced to live with alchemy instead). So, in short, you have access to a very limited aetherial reserve in your body, and you use it to focus it through the cane/rod (with conductive materials like noble metals, electrum/gold/platinum, or bone) directly to/from the gem (not sure in which direction?). The Coco brothers approach consists in cleverly recharging the body reserves when they are drained, since it can regen decently well (still takes time though). A BLM in comparison, draws directly from Hydaelyn through the gem of Shatotto (or not, but then they burn their insides), which means access to an unlimited amount of aether, turning them into... well, gods on earth.

 

Conjury is kind of the opposite. The CNJ doesn't use their body reserves (unlike Sylvie in the CNK quest, and her mother that died of it for the same reasons it kills thaumaturges pretty quick if not mastered). They borrow from the land around them, which means they have access to a much greater supply of aether but also, must watch not to drain it (or elementals be very cross yo, which is probably also why casting fire and thunder is much harder considering the low supply in nature, and how destructive it can be, but it's possible, after all, of fire is born fertile ground, etc etc). It's basically a less forceful approach and involves a lot of prayers, attuned to nature, a zen attitude, etc. White Mages are like Black Mages though, they draw from Hydaelyn, but here with the blessing of the Elementals and the WHM soulstone. 

 

Arcanima is harder to define. It seems to use the same kind of conductive materials thaumaturges use (electrum/platinum ink, etc). The book is used to draw complex mathematical patterns in that ink with the capability to conjure spells out of them (esp the carbuncles). They seem to use their own aether body reserves, but also seem to recharge it through a good control of 'aetherflow', not totally unsimilar to monk chakras in my opinion.  

 

If Arcanima can use the elemental wheel or not, and if thaumaturges and conjurers can use advanced viruses and bio attacks weaved by mathematical patterns though, I don't know. Possibly?

 

Note: CNJ actually have a sleep spell as well ingame.

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For ease I want to focus on the three base schools of ARR - Thaumaturgy, Conjury and Arcanism. I would characterize Thaumaturgy and Conjury as being (at least in gameplay terms) two sides of an element-based magic, with different methods of access and a focus on destruction and healing respectively. On the face of it Arcanism seems to be concerned with entropy, both the propogation and reversal of it, and the strategic application of a carbuncle companion.

 

I'm not sure I agree with this assessment of the disciplines. In brief:

 

Conjury is communion with nature and the elements - and to a lesser extent, the Elementals. Most Conjurers never directly witness an Elemental, but all Conjurers meditate on the elements. To a Conjurer, each element is important, and each carries a specific meaning. A Conjurer's meditations are contemplative and philosophical, feeling the element-tinted world around them and from which they draw their power.

 

Thaumaturgy is mental discipline. Despite its its element-aligned spells, it has nothing to do with the elements philosophically. To a Thaumaturge, Fire is a tool for burning things - nothing more and nothing less. Because their power comes from within, Thaumaturges are very concerned with how to increase their potential. a Thaumaturge's meditations are forceful and introspective, controlling the ebb and flow of aether within their own soul.

 

Arcanima is precise application. Arcanists study and refine how to shape and apply small amounts of aether for maximal effect. Grimoires are toolboxes filled with ways to more finely shape aether than they could with their minds alone. Arcanists don't meditate, because aetheric capacity isn't much of a concern for them. Instead, they spend their contemplative time practicing formulae, and staying up to date on the latest techniques and literature.

 

If these characterizations are even remotely accurate, how much can they be said to dictate what a student of any one school can or cannot do within the scope of their studies? I think I'm right in saying that in 1.0 Conjury encompassed the entire elemental wheel, but now they are limited to Earth, Wind and Water. Do these kinds of distinctions inform what your character can do, or are they largely gameplay concessions? Could, for example, an Arcanist learn a spell to conjure a fireball using the Aetherial Geometries, or are they limited to the kind of entropic viruses and unaspected blasts we see in their ability tree? Could a Conjurer cast a spell to put somebody to sleep? Could a Thaumaturge erect a protective shield? To what extent do people allow for the schools of magic to cross-over or use different methods to achieve the same result?

 

Arcanima -> Thaumaturgy/Conjury: Arcanima can't create fire out of the geometries, because the amount of aether that goes into a fireball would overload their books. Fireballs are sledgehammer compared to the razors that Arcanists are used to swinging.

Thaumaturgy/Conjury -> Arcanima: Thaumaturgy and Conjury can't be used to summon Carbuncles, because their tools (mental discipline or the blessing of nature) are too clumsy for the fine-detailed manipulation needed to create a Carbuncle.

Thaumaturgy -> Conjury: Techinically possible, but hazardous to the caster. Ask Sylphie's mother how this one worked out for her.

Conjury -> Thaumaturgy: I tend to RP that Conjury can use all 6 elements (but doing so is not the same for them as it is for a Thaumaturge - a Conjurer can't force an Astral shift in Nature to increase the force their spells, the way a Thaumaturge can in their own soul). Conjurers tend to be most practiced in the ones that are necessary for day-to-day maintenance of the Shroud, hence Earth, Water, and Wind. Conjurers don't practice with fire or lightning because no one likes forest fires.

 

All this doesn't mean that a Thaumaturge can't cast Virus. They clearly can (game mechanics are lore, too) - but they're using Arcanima when they do it (with the geometries inscribed on a glove or a plate on their staff), not Thaumaturgy.

 

Also, none of this applies to jobs. WHM seems like it would have the same limitations and CNJ, and SCH seems like it would have the same limitations as ACN, but SMNs absolutely can use elemental magic, via Egis. BLMs theoretically could draw on the planet's life force to fuel Cure spells without burning themselves out. I don't know enough about AST to talk about them.

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The lore book is helpful in this regard. :)

 

Manipulation of aether in a manner that deviates from its natural tendencies is what scholars call "magic." While the various schools of magic such as thaumaturgy and conjury all employ differing methods to achieve this goal, the basic concept is the same.

 

Metaphysically, all of the different schools of magic are doing the same thing. As Kerin points out, they have rather significant paradigmatic and philosophical differences, particularly in how they're taught and how their practitioners view the world and magic. This means that there's a fair bit of overlap in the end result of their practices, even if the methods are rather different.

 

In terms of what you can actually do, consider the paradigm of the Discipline. Arcanima is based on geometries and its spells involve the manipulation of matter and motion. So, an arcanist wouldn't create a giant blast of fire; while they metaphysically could do so if they devised the proper mathematical formula for it, that wouldn't be the route they'd take. Instead, they would alter the properties of the object to accelerate its decomposition (which is, as the lore book points out, more or less what Tri-Disaster does). The arcanist thinks in these terms, and all of the spells she's been taught operate in those terms, so it's hard for her to step outside that box.

 

That said, arcanists can clearly break things. All of the Disciplines can produce protective barriers, whether personal (a thaumaturge's Manaward and Manawall) or protective of a group (Nymian arcanima's shields, astromancy's barriers, or a conjurer's Protect to deflect attacks). Both conjurers and thaumaturges can affect the mind, putting someone to sleep; arcanists and astromancers have less authority there, but that makes sense, given that their emphasis is on the immediate and physical or time and space, respectively.

 

More germane to RP, I think, is where you go from here with your concept. For most practicing mages, the concept that "magic is magic" isn't particularly well-liked ICly for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is rivalry among the guilds). A character who goes down that road is likely to encounter resistance, but this can make for some interesting RP on the philosophy of magic. If you specialize in one Discipline, it's important to consider both the fact that they have a bit of overlap and that there's just some things that a wielder of a Discipline just would not do. Conjurers don't focus their efforts on bigger and more impressive ways to destroy things, because that's not what their paradigm teaches. Arcanists don't muddle around in vague concepts like "meditation" and "feeling aether," because reality is math, dammit. They focus on what they can prove, not what they believe. This extends even to stretching the boundaries of a Discipline. An arcanist wouldn't muck with spells affecting the mind, because the mind is hard to conceptualize and harder to define mathematically. A thaumaturge isn't going to concern themselves with ways to heal injuries, because thaumaturgy is an art of endings.

 

As you can see, this is a topic of great interest to people who RP their characters as mages, particularly when they're magical researchers. :)

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Some nice responses from Misteyes and Freelance! Those feel like great approaches.

 

For me the important part is the source of the magic and how it's casted, like using the proper channeling focuses, or some believable alternatives.

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