Fantasy Writ Large

Introduction

The world is now a place where nature is dangerous, magic is real, and society has developed under the pressures of a fantasy world.

Won't it be marvelous to have fantasy writ large?

Themes

Magic

Potential

Magical potential, also known as the spark, is a non-inhertible binary trait. Either one has it or one lacks it and this can be determined from puberty onwards.

Population density has something of an effect on how common magical potential is with approximately one in fifty of those born in sprasely populated countryside having potential while the densest cityes have up to one in twenty having potential.

Being able to use this potential is a different matter and relates somewhat to intelligence, drive, and certain forms of thought. Some families, or lineages, tend to have these traits and while they may not have the spark they are likely to be able to put it to proper use.

In most countries with compulsory education, any youngster found to have the spark will be put in classes on its usage for at least three years. Mages are just too useful to have someone not try and parents will often push their child to put effort into it.

Usage

Anyone who can think can use magic, but without the spark of potential they can't make magic nor manipulate it. Simple magic items are usable just with just instruction, or even through just a little practice, but they lack the flexibility which an actual spell can grant.

The skills to use magic items to a better degree, or to tamper with them, are a subset of the skills required to cast magic initially so mages are generally better with items than a random person but many non-mages have a refined degree of skill as well.

Beyond the use of items, casting spells requires not only general knowledge of the use of magic but sufficent power to fuel the spell and enough skill in that specific type of magic. Knowledge and familiarity with a particular spell can also yeild better results and certain types of magics have 'tricks' to get around the normal requirements of power or skill for a given complexity of spell.

Power

The power for magic is generated by the 'spark' of someone with potential or, to a limited degree, by the structure of properly enchanted items. Mages practice exercises to increase how much power they can hold at any one time and their recovery rate of power, which only is noticable while restfully sleeping, keeps pace with that capacity.

Formulated Spells

While technically one can only hold so much power, some types of power are easier to hold than others. It is possible to 'prepare' a spell, specifying much of what the caster wishes to do, in advance then hold it in the form power ready for the mage to complete the casting.

This measured approach makes the power easier to hold, although 'stuck' in that form until released, and can allow a mage to have ready between a third more and twice as many spells as they would otherwise be able to cast.

Preparing a spell takes time, minutes at some previous point in addition to the usual casting time when it is finally used, and most mages only bother to prepare spells which they know they'll be using later. For example, healers almost always have an undifferentiated diagnistic cantrip prepared a half dozen times simply because it is a spell which they -will- be using often.

Types

Items

Magical items are made by artificers in a process which takes time, effort, and quality materials. They gather magic like a mage's spark does and either uses it to sustain a passive effect or stores it until needed for an activated power.

The poorest magic item will last for seven years, a typical one sold will have a lifespan of at least seventy years if not a century, and the better ones are effectively enchanted until broken. Items with activated effects, or moving parts such as a perpetually turning archimedes screw, may require maintence every year or three lest they develop quirks and minor problems.

Talismans

Without any internal source of magic, a 'talisman' slowly loses magic and even the best don't last more than a month. Many don't even survive more than a day or two.

Culture

Night Time

Even in cities dangers lurk, especially in the darker or less frequented areas. While regular patrols, and very reactive guard parties, do try to keep things from getting out of hand there are some cultural traits which help.

Farms, villages, or other 'small settlements' generally just lock up at night. Between sunset and sunrise people stay within their homes.

Somewhat larger settlements will have a 'midnight curfew' instead with a few limited entertainment spots where the guard will visit before, and at, the midnight to accompany people back to where they are staying. In other place the establishments themselves offer the 'cot to drop' which are basically tiny rooms to sleep in until the morning if you are out too late.

Cities, and large towns big enough to have an entertainment district, have their city guard supplemented by parties hired by groups of the businesses as well. Hotels 'till morning only' will be scattered around and the area is kept meticuliously safe through to the dawn.

Loners & Groups

Because so many creatures in the world excell as taking down individuals, and often killing them once incapacitated unless interrupted, being a true loner is not a survival trait.
It is common to invite people you know only vaguely along to public events, such as going for a meal out, simply to 'make up the numbers' and buildings with multiple small appartments will have 'meeting lounges' so that the occupants can socialise at least vaguely.

Family meals, nights out with your party/co-workers, communal listening to the radio, and other such affairs are common ways to show that you are still around and gives a good pool of people to find someone who might be interested if you wanted to go out.

Adventuring Parties

These are typically groups of four to seven combat capable individuals who have banded together as a team and act as a flexible squad where they cover each others weaknesses. This parallels the D&D adventuring party but commonly will have at best one or two 'casters', a few ranged attackers, and always some front line fighters who can act as blockers in a pinch.

Socially there is a fair bit of give and take between members, sometimes even interesting conflicts, but it soon settles to a degree of comradery. People were brought up, or recall being brought up, on the tales of having people who can watch your back, keep you safe, and who you can keep safe in turn.

Healer-Mages

While technically open to other views the culture around the organisations which teach healing magic, and the wider attitudes towards healers, has ended up somewhat secular and definitely respectful. The talent for this field is uncommon even within mages which means that each is a 'valuable' person.

A qualified healer-acolyte will have been presented with a signature white robe with a square pattern along the edge of blue which makes them easily identifable in emergencies.

It is useful to note that magic hands traumatic injuries with an ease which would make 'old' paramedics green with envy. Unless the mage is out of power, the patient has been poisoned or had organs seriously torn, or other magic is involved then someone won't be dying from injuries once they get to a healer (or the healer gets to them) and full recovery is almost assured.