warhammer fantasy roleplay - sorcery book
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Chapter One: Warhammer Sorcery The Roots of Warhammer Sorcery The Source of Magick In the beginning there was Chaos, And within this Chaos was Power, Great Power without Form. Yet within Chaos there was Motion, And within Motion was Form, And within this Motion were the Words, Which shaped the Motion, and gave it Form. And the Great Speakers were awakened, And the Great Words were spoken, And the Great Magick was wrought, The Birth of the World. And in the Image of the Great Speakers were we awakened, And in the Image of the Great Words have we spoken, And in the image of the Great Magick have we wrought our world. As it is said, so shall it be done. -- from The Verrah Rubricon of Verena, Book One, "The History of the World." When the Powers speak, the Universe listens -- because the Universe is fundamentally nothing more than Form imposed upon Chaos, and the image of that Form is determined through the action, consciousness, and will represented in the unimaginably complex and subtle Great Language of the Powers known to mortals as gods and daemons.The vast and magickal powers of the Powers are a reflection of their superior command of this divine language, referred to by cult scholars as the lingua praestantia. Lesser magical powers, like daemons and spirits, have more modest facility and capacity for this language, and therefore have correspondingly more modest magickal abilities.Even the greatest of the Old Slann and their gifted pupils, the High Elven wizards of the First Age, had little more than a baby's babbling comprehension of this language -- but through that primitive comprehension they were the mightiest sorcerors of the all time. And the best-known practitioners of the Arcane Arts in the great Academies of Magick are little better than apes mimicking the speech of men -- and yet, their powers are the source of awe and wonder among the peoples of the Warhammer World.Words and Magic: "How might humble words work magic?" you may ask. Indeed, the words of mortal languages have little enough power to them -- but the Words of the Gods are another thing altogether. When the Earth Mother says, "Oceans, dance!" the oceans dance. When a lesser Young God like Manaan says, "Oceans, dance!" the effect is more modest -- but still awesome in human terms. And when a sorceror summons a water elemental and commands it to capsize a rowboat, the scale is immensely different, but the principle is the same.
The Sorceror and Lingua Praestantia: Even the simplest word in lingua praestantia is unimaginably complex. In the simplest petty sorcery, shadings of rhythm, accent, pitch, duration, volume, timbre, etc. all control a host of critical elements, any of which might spoil the effect if imprecisely phrased. Only the rare individual with the combined gifts of the temple choir soloist and the finest scholar can learn to master the subtle chords of sorcery.Further, a sorceror must also have been blessed with a powerful aethyrial organ (known variously as the "Spirit" or "Mind" or "Psyche"), so that he can shape its resonances to the Words and thereby produce the magical effect. For most sorcerors, this aethyrial component of the Great Language is hardest to master, but excellence in this exercise is the crucial difference between the lowly hedgewizard and the more exalted practitioners of the Arcane Arts. Runes: Runes, the fundamental agencies of sorcery, are the physical and aethyrial images of lingua praestantia, just as writing is the physical image of the spoken word of human languages. Runecraft is an unimaginably complex and demanding art. Accurate transcription of the Great Language into runes requires that the tiniest distinctions of pronunciation be precisely recorded in the rune. Further, a rune must be inscribed not only in the physical domain, but also in the aethyrial domain -- that is, they must be magically inscribed into the aethyrial field associated with the rune.Properly-inscribed runes are essential to all sorcerous undertakings, and all sorcerors must read and understand at least those runes essential to the particular spells and rituals they learn. More ambitious students of runecraft may be qualified for research and development of revised or new applications of the arcane practices. Sorcerous Vs. Divine Magicks The first magicks on Warhammer were Divine Magicks -- magical powers given by a god to his followers. The followers so-blessed needed to know nothing about the arcane arts to produce magical effects. The followers simply prayed to their gods, and their gods provided the magical effects. All that was required of the followers was duty, service, and honor to the god, the temple, and the tenets of the faith.Sorcerors, on the other hand, must be knowledgeable and skilled in the arcane arts to produce magical effects. Unlike cult priests and other beneficiaries of cult magical gifts, sorcerors must study diligently to master their trade, and as they are perfecting their trade, they run the risk of potentially-disastrous failures as the result of the slightest error. As a consequence, sorcerors as a class generally feel superior to cult priests, regarding them more as unskilled servants than sorcerors, and judging them more studied in theological rigamarole than in the true arcane arts.The cults have persecuted secular magical practices since the dawn of human culture, labelling them as "witchcraft" and "daemonworship," forbidding their followers to traffick in the "dark arts of Chaos-spawn," and encouraging cult and state crusades to exterminate practitioners of secular magick. The cults have always publically associated all sorcery with Chaos magicks and the often-abused disciplines of Necromancy and Demonology.
(NOTE: Warhammer Sorcerous Magicks primarily presents the realms of the sorcerous arts, with only passing references to divine magicks. For further details on divine magicks in the World of Warhammer, see the companion volume, Warhammer Divine Magicks.) Sorcery in the Modern Old World Cult Persecution For centuries the cults have jealously guarded their monopoly on magickal practice. Except for brief periods, sorcery in the Old World up until the latter half of the 25th Century was confined primarily to hedgewizards who practiced their arts in secret or in communities where the cult influences were weak or nonexistent. Parents taught their children that the practice of secular magicks was evil and demon-inspired, and that cult-followers treated with petty witches and wizards at the risk of Eternal Damnation. Earlier Periods of Cult Tolerance: Three periods in the past have seen comparatively little cult interference with the practice of sorcery, and during these periods were the greatest flowerings of the Arcane Arts.The first period came in the First and Second Centuries IC, with the expansion of urbanization and trade during the early Empire. Most of the venerable enchantments laid upon the wall and defenses of the great cities of the Old World date from this period, which came to a close with the emergence of the Cult of Sigmar as a power in Imperial politics.The second period of tolerance came during the Black Plagues of the Tenth Century. For a brief time priests and wizards made common cause against the disastrous humane and economic effects of the Plague, but within a few decades, sorcery was once again proscribed by most Old World nations.The third period of toleration began in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in the City States of Tilea, and ended abruptly in the mid-20th Century with the violent suppression of the Chaos Cults that had proliferated throughout Old World culture in preceding centuries. Many sorcerors were slain by mobs, and many great magick treasures lost forever in the Dark Ages that follow. Sorcery During Periods of Oppression A few secret societies of sorcerors have managed to survive and prosper from ancient times, even in regions of pervasive cult influence. From time to time these secret societies emerged during periods of public toleration, typically in times of siege, invasion, and war, when desperate need for sorcerous magicks forced the cults to compromise their fanatic moral opposition to sorcerous practices. Even during periods of fanatic intolerance of sorcery, the rich and the powerful relied on the services of wizards and alchemists of these secret societies. Rulers, nobles -- even clerics -- privately sheltered and exploited the practitioners of proscribed arcane arts, even as they publicly denounced them and burned them at the stake as heretics. The libraries and practical experience accumulated by these clandestine societies down through the centuries form the foundations of much of the body of knowledge studied by modern academic sorcery. Further, in remote wilderness areas like the World's End frontier, the Border Princedoms, and in isolated Elvish and Dwarven
settlements, a variety of hedgewizards and small scholarly communities practiced sorcery openly, though on a modest scale. Because of their isolation, these solitary practitioners were often limited to unimaginative, conservative notions of sorcery handed down scarcely changed from the latter centuries of the Great Goblin Wars. Narrow and parochial as these minor enclaves have been, some have preserved magical lore of great interest to modern academics. The Waning of Cult Influence in Old World Warfare and Politics In the late 25th Century, cultural views of sorcery experienced a revolution. Through altering modern attitudes toward the role of the cults in society, warfare, and politics, throughout the Old World came a shift in private and public opinions about the practice of sorcery. Historically the cults enjoyed great political power for three main reasons: 1. Their magical support in warfare, 2. Their magical services to the ruling -- or aspiring -- clans, and 3. Their power to heal the citizenry of disease and the soldiery of battlefield wounds. Th