The Mystic Arts
The Fear and Distrust of Magic and Psionics
The humans of the Known World have long feared and distrusted those that dabble in the mystic arts. This fear likely stems from the era of the Demonist Purge. The purge occurred shortly after the founding of the Dominion, when a number of demonists where unmasked in the middle of a plot to usurp the rightful leaders of the Great Dominion. While many nobles were found guilty during the Demonist Purge, most of the conspirators were actually advisers to the leaders of the Dominion, trained in magical or psionic pursuits.
In the wake of the purge, the nation of Zaravek was established, primarily to function as a place where those in the mystic arts could be properly trained to resist the temptation of demons. Additionally, the academies of Zaravek also served to identify those with leanings toward Demonism and bind them from using their powers, protecting the Known World from any threat they might pose in the future.
To this day, mages and psionicists retain a more subdued position in human society. Outside of Zaravek, guilds of these individuals are almost completely nonexistent. Likewise, alchemists are extremely rare, often with less than half a dozen in an entire nation, and those few occupying only the capital or largest trade cities in the area. When governments or nobles do employ these individuals, they typically keep them under close supervision, for the safety of their nation. For example, those few employed in the Pyrian military are surrounded by a “shield guard” at all times. On the surface, these guardians protect the individual from attacks in battle, but they have also been trained to eliminate the spellcaster or psion if he or she begins disobeying orders or becomes a danger to the rest of the army. The Empire also makes sure to keep only one magic user or psychic with each independent band of their army, to protect against demonist conspiracy.
Magic Users in Kythar
Wizardry remains the principal school of mystic study in Kythar, and is the principal business of the academies of Zaravek. The path of a wizard is, unfortunately, typically a calling, rather than a choice. Most of the students in Zaravek have actually shown a knack for their abilities most of their lives, and began manifesting limited magical powers without any training. Only a handful have any desire to become wizards, but find their fate forced upon them by family members who insist that the individual studies at one of Zaravek’s academies before demonic corruption can tempt him or her.
Elementalists (warlocks) are also very common in the Known World, though still incredibly rare when compared to those who have developed elemental affinities. Unfortunately, except for a small school in the wilderness of The Empiriti Highlands, no organized training exists to help elementalists fully master their abilities. As a result, most elementalists are entirely self-trained, and trusted even less than most spellcasters for their presumed lack of resistance against demonic temptation.
Summoners, however, are probably the most likely magic users to be accused of demonism. This is not without precedent, as many summoners throughout history have come to be corrupted by the very forces they have brought into this world. Those delving into the arts of summoning are invariably expelled from Zaravek (and in almost all cases) branded as demoncallers. The practice does remain alive in Quelios though, where summoners remain outnumbered by mystic crafters by five to one or more.
Crafters are trained exclusively by the crafters guild operating within Quelios, and only a tiny handful of their number ever leave the island nation. Only recently discovered, the magic of crafting remains a mystery to the outside world (and a mystery the guild wants to keep intact). As such, few suspect that summoning plays a role in this art, and crafters typically receive the same amount of respect given to wizards. If the true nature of their abilities were ever discovered, however, the view of crafters would likely slide dramatically.
Diabolism is unknown within the setting of Kythar. However, game masters who desire its existence should feel free to either make it exclusive to an order of dwarves close to the Runecasters (or the Runecasters themselves), or allow it as a new mystic art in the world, only recently developed.
Psionicists in Kythar
Major and minor psychics are virtually nonexistent in Kythar, as those who have the capacity to hone these abilities rarely choose to do so for fear of being ostracized by their peers. Those who do train in psionic abilities almost always embrace their gift (or, as they may see it, their curse) completely.
Psi-Healers remain the most respected of all psionicists within the Known World. The commonly selfless nature of their craft often earns them a “free pass” from the superstitions typically associated with the supernatural in human lands. This also means that demonist healers, although a rarity, can remain undiscovered for decades at a time, and are among the most insidious of psionic demonists.
Psychic sensitives and psi-mystics are uncommon, and often mask or hide their abilities if living in society, although many are likely to survive as hermits in the Wilds after years of being shunned by their fellow man. Seers, a direct offshoot of psychic sensitives, have found their own niche within society. These psions are specialists at clairvoyance, a talent the squabbling nobles of Benguison find particularly useful. Within that nation, it has become nearly essential for the member of any royal line with a hope for the throne to employ a powerful seer as an adviser in the politicking of the region.
Mind mages are also a miniscule rarity among most of the races of Kythar. The terrifying power of a mind mage is often more than enough to raise cries of demonist in the Known World. Those mind mages not discovered and brought to trial by their companions or families typically work hard at concealing their powers to ensure their survival. Amongst the Shien race, however, mind mages remain very common, and a fixture of their society. Virtually all shien are born with at least physical psionic capabilities, and combat-trained mind mages act as the leaders of their society.
Elemental affinities remain the most common form of supernatural abilities in Kythar. An estimated 15% of the population of the Known World manifests one or more of these talents naturally. Unlike other forms of magic, affinities are widely accepted. This is mostly a result of the limited strength of affinities. Additionally, few individuals show more than a single elemental affinity, and an individual’s affinity has manifested within him or her from early childhood. Unlike magic or psionic talents, affinities are entirely instinctual, as natural to their users as walking or breathing. Finally, as the power of an affinity cannot be increased, and new affinities cannot be learned, there is little fear of the corruption of power that many humans worry about in regards to traditional psionics or magic users.
The Threat of Demonism
In Kythar, demons and devils remain nebulous threats, preferring to rely on human pawns to accomplish their goals within the world. Only a handful of these creatures actually occupy the Known World, and the demonists, those who embrace the gifts promised by these creatures, act as their hand in mortal affairs. Most demonists are expected to take a commanding role in society, where they are most likely to cause suffering and pain (among other emotions their masters treasure) to those beneath them.
The witch best represents the most experienced and trusted of demonists. Many toil for their masters solely on the promise of power, receiving only magical trinkets, minor demonic minions, or training in a spell or two before proving themselves. Typically, a demon will use the assets of its pet mortals to benefit one another. Neophyte demonists are likely to receive gifts of wealth or allies from unknown sources (actually wealthy followers of their own lord). After proving themselves multiple times, demonists may finally receive the gift of power or magic, although only the most worthy (only a precious few in the Known World) will ever gain the gift of union.
Even more feared than demonists, the demoncallers actively seek to bring more of these foul creatures into the world through dimensional magic or some other means. The lure or promise of power can lead many otherwise sane people to this mad pursuit. Thankfully, true demoncallers are rare, and those discovered are hunted down aggressively.