February 16, 2015
So whilst I seem to be taking an ever-increasing amount of time to produce comic pages (for which I largely blame my commitment to higher quality in my art), here’s a bit of worldbuilding on the current storyline.
Namely, here’s how magic first appeared and what it’s meant for everyone.
Stories analogous to magic existed long prior to the present era, with stories of supernatural beings and god-things floating in the dark amongst all races dating back for centuries at least. What came to be described as “magic” first appeared in recorded history amongst the dwarves of Karazi, whose crafted goods began to display a quality that was physically impossible for many, even other dwarves, to reproduce. Likewise some elves began to show unexplainable talents at some fields of study. For the most part, these examples were initially dismissed as a flavour of the elder races or as simply virtuosos catching public attention.
What more modern audiences would call magic first appeared beneath the canopy of the Golden Forests, with a generation of elves displaying the ability to initiate spell flares first being documented in 24 AC. These glowing auras that gripped tightly to their creators were visually fascinating, but had no real power in and of themselves. They’ve since become the stable characteristic of spell-crafters, since all can produce such an aura regardless of their actual magical ability. Actual spell effects weren’t seen until 28 AC, in a research laboratory in Farostown, which caused the detonation of the facility. Farostown has, on a municipal level, never been welcoming to spell-crafters since.
This unfortunate accident caused widespread public attention to be pointed squarely on a group of individuals who had previously been dismissed as talented performers and entertainers only. Riots, rallies, and general unrest spread globally in a very short span of time, causing all nations to establish their own responses to the matter. Most rightfully discerned that the incident in Farostown had been purely accidental, with no innate malice existing in the spell-crafters involved, and with little chance of such an occurrence happening again as a result of the destruction of the research notes housed in the facility and many of the central personnel.
The Empire of Mann was not most nations.
Having been receiving regular reports from the Farostown facility throughout the research period, the military hastily apprehended all survivors of the project and all knowledge of them in the public record ceases by 30 AC. Three years later in the autumn of 33 AC, the emperor formally announced the thorough classification of spell-crafters as hazardous individuals and established the State Mage system which saw them mandatorily conscripted into the military. This meant that the empire was the first nation to capitalise wholesale on the potential of magic as a weapon of incomparable potency, and new research facilities sprang up almost overnight across its territory. Development of new spells and new understanding of magic, as well as near-perfect replication of the Farostown event, accelerated tremendously in the early years as it was used to facilitate the expansion of the empire across the central continent.
As spell-crafters went from entertainers to monsters to supersoldiers, in a relatively short spawn of time, opinions on them tend to be mixed. As time has gone on, the majority of experiences with them have shifted more towards their military service, aligning them with the same concerns as other examples of state-controlled brute-force workers. Many fear them as walking weapons, whilst incidents of criminal activity involving spell-crafters, and memories of the Farostown incident, stir ill sentiment towards them into outright bigotry and aggression. On the front lines, spell-crafters are elite soldiers but are handled like livestock and engine parts. At home, they are terrorists, criminals, and outsiders. Abroad, they are symbols of oppression and nationalist strength.
No-one today really remembers when spell-crafters were just people who could make fancy light shows with a wave of their hands.