Ars Magus is the Latin name given to the form of magic practiced by the Knights Illuminor. It is a rune based form of magic, similar to enchanting, as it is generally used via Legacy Weapons, Grimoires, and other pre-prepared devices instead of being cast freeform. Certain Mages however are known to be capable of actively creating and casting spells, called Ars, most notably the Magus of the Knights Illuminor, who is required to be capable of such to hold the position in the first place. Despite having existed for centuries, its secrets are zealously guarded, and to this day no faction other than the Knights Illuminor has successfully utilized it.
The roots of Ars Magus lie in the earliest days of human magecraft, when the first mages realized with despair that, due to their shorter lifespans, they would never gain enough experience to match the elven wizards. While mages were generally literate, even with the ability to learn from a text instead of a master, something that the elves eschewed as inefficient, the difference in the ability to comprehend and remember the intricacies of magic between the two races was viewed by both sides as insurmountable. A human mage could spend their entire life studying a specific subset of magic, and an elf who had spent a similar amount of time would be vastly superior, and would have decades left to live and thus to refine their knowledge and pass the entirety of it down to a chosen apprentice, or many apprentices, depending on their will. The archives of human magi were growing, but at a rate too slow for those among them who feared that the elves would soon cease to be content supporting and "guiding" human kings from the shadows, such as Arthur, and would decide that the younger race needed their "help" for the greater good of all races.
It was in runes and human writing that the solution was found. A rune could be powered by nearly any magus with basic training, and could be memorized and written in far less time than it would take for a human to actually learn the spell that the rune was designed to cast. An experienced magus could spend their time creating runes, far from the prospective battlefield, and thus not be in danger of losing their life and the mystical knowledge that they had gained during it. Humans began thus to utilize runes far more extensively than elves ever had before, but that alone was not enough. The turning point came when the mages among the Knights Teutonic, a Christian order initially founded to establish hospitals and protect human travelers on pilgrimage from the depredations of the unbelievers and the inhuman, proposed, and later managed to create, an entirely new form of runic casting, that instead of utilizing a single pictogram for each spell, drew upon many separate runes specifically created to act in concert to form spells and focus magic, as letters act in concert to form words and convey meaning. It was, in essence, an entirely written language, a language of magic. Its creators deemed it perfect for their purposes, and began further enhancing it in secret, adding new runes likewise designed to be able to be utilized as the original ones, and eventually dubbing it Ars Magus, for they believed that they had managed to blur the lines of practicality and art, and create a method by which humans could defend themselves from any race that wished them ill. Less than two decades later, the first of the northern crusades began.
In the centuries since then, Ars Magus has been continually refined and improved upon, and it is traditional for each magical leader of the Knights Illuminor, the successor organization to the Knights Templar, who likewise succeeded the Knights Teutonic, to create another sub-branch of the art, creating each rune themselves and integrating their contribution into the greater whole. Certain entire syllabaries have had their master runes captured and altered for incorporation, including, most notably, the original elven syllabary, captured during the fall of the last elven kingdom on the european continent, when Crusaders intercepted the ships meant to evacuate the master runes to Annwn and took the cargo for themselves.
As has been previously stated, Ars Magus is less a system of runes, and more an entire language dedicated to translating the intent of the mage into a magical effect. The matrices, often called arrays, that serve the purpose that a single, dedicated rune would serve in any other system of wizardry are thus incredibly complex, and rare is the array that includes symbols taken solely from a single incorporated syllabary. This, combined with the utmost secrecy surrounding the workings of the craft itself, as most Knights learn a wide variety of specific arrays but not the methods of creating their own, has made it virtually impossible to decipher for outsiders, something that the Knights Illuminor has gone to great pains to maintain.
The other key aspect of Ars Magus that differentiates it from what is considered traditional runecraft, is that due to the focus on compatibility, progress, and the assumption that no Ars, no matter how complete, would remain unchanged for long, Ars can be manipulated and modified while they are active via quickly changing specific runes in the matrix to adjust the effects produced. This is of limited utility when it is utilized in the typical fashion, that being pre-scribed arrays created long before they are intended to be used, but has proven to be quite effective in the hands of the few Paladins (mainly Legacy Weapon wielders) who have been taught the art of creating new Ars as they require them.
Roughly speaking, Ars are sorted into five categories based on how many runes they posses, and whether they include several less complicated Ars as secondary or supporting elements.
- Chain: The most basic Ars, these are little more than simple rune chains, and tend to be no more than fifty characters in length. They tend to be weak and unfocused, and are generally used for simple tasks that do not require much precision or power, due to how easy it is to overload them. When inscribed, they tend to appear as simple lines of runes.
- Array: The second most common type of Ars, these are approximately one hundred and fifty to two hundered characters long, and generally include several rune chains. These tend to be more powerful, but still lack focus, and tend to be used for wide area effects that do not need to be precise. They also tend to be more resilient to overloading. When inscribed, they tend to take the form of a circular band of runes, generally with defined borders.
- Matrix: The most common type of Ars, these are the workhorses of the Knight Illuminor, and can be seen on the vast majority of inscribed objects. They tend to range in length from two sub-arrays to four, or roughly equivalent to five hundred to seven hundred characters, though many are larger. They are preferred for their balance of complexity and power, and are capable of an impressive degree of precision when designed for it. They are also quite resilient to overloading, and it takes deliberate effort to do so on the part of the magus. When inscribed, they tend to take the form of a circle, formed by several concentric arrays, linked together and defined as a single Ars.
- Ritual: Less common due to how complex they are, ritual class Ars are rarely seen by outsiders as they tend to be deliberately kept secret. They originated as conversions of ancient magical rituals, and thus take their name from them. They are vastly more complex than matrices, and tend to measure well over five thousand characters in length. Depending on how they are inscribed, they can bring immense power to bear with a great degree of precision, or bring a lesser amount of power to bear with exquisite precision, or somewhere in between. It is considered impossible to overload a ritual class Ars with a wand type channeling device. Due to their length and complexity, they tend to be inscribed as cluster of several circles, with a far larger one encompassing them all, along with entire arrays dedicated to linking the submatrices together. This restricted them, until the advent of the microscope and magnifying lenses, to being used only in areas where it was possible to cover a large section of the available space in runes.
- Grand Ritual: The least common type of Ars, and until the platinum age, almost exclusively conversions of ancient rituals, grand rituals are distinct in that they often require multiple mages to cast even when inscribed ahead of time, due to their power requirements. In length they fluctuate wildly, some being only one hundred thousand characters in length or less, while the largest known is well over four million characters and takes up the entirety of the available surface within the sanctuary of the cathedral in which it is located. They are designed to bring the mana of multiple mages, sometimes entire congregations, to bear on a single, precise, desired effect, and are unrivaled in both power and precision. It is considered functionally impossible to overload a grand ritual, and in fact, most are specifically designed to function when relatively under-powered, compared to lesser Ars. Due to their massive size, and the sheer effort required to scribe them, grand rituals are almost exclusively used only in chambers specifically designed for them, and due to the varying layouts of said chambers, there is no established format for inscribing them, though, should one ever be inscribed on a totally flat surface, it would likely follow the same general theme as the classes before it, and be made up of circular subsections encompassed by a circular perimeter.
Notable Ars Edit
- The Final Baptism: One of the most ancient Ars in existence, and as close to a symbol of the Mantle's faith as an Ars can get, this grand ritual class Ars was for centuries used as a method of executing heretical wizards who defied the Church's teachings and defiled God's creation. It is, or rather, it is claimed to be, an exorcism ritual so powerful that it affects the soul of the living, and forces it out to submit to God's judgement, through the use of God's teachings and holy word. In actuality, it is three separate magical effects overlaid upon each other rather inefficiently, as is often the case with ancient magic. The three effects are a purifying one, a desiccating one, and finally, a exorcising one. Recently, there have been attempts to streamline the ritual so it can be used with less preparation, perhaps even reducing the effect to a single matrix, using runes created specifically for that purpose, but if there has been success, it has not been announced.
- Reversion Ars: One of the Knights Illuminor's most jealously guarded matrices, this Ars, when applied to an object, registers the precise state of that object at the moment of activation, and after that point, whenever active attempts to magically force the object to return to that state should it have deviated from it.
- Sensory Deprivation Ars: A matrix that, when applied to a human, intercepts signals from the central nervous system returning to the brain, thus utterly cutting off all senses and acting similar to a sensory deprivation tank. It is used to train young magi to sense mana around them, and, more controversially, is sometimes used as a punishment for rebellious squires.
Notable Wielders Edit
- Magus Meraldus Ivet
- Knight Tanwyn Angharad