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February 7, 2006, 3:57 pm

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Ancient Gamer
Cheka Man

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Theories on Art and Magic


The mind of a wizard is more open to the more esoteric elements of his surroundings - this is why he is able to perceive the weave of the Great Tapestry that is the multiverse, and pull at the strings. This increased sensitivity can manifest in several ways.

Art as a reaction to magic:
The mind of a wizard is more open to the more esoteric elements of his surroundings - this is why he is able to perceive the weave of the Great Tapestry that is the multiverse, and pull at the strings. This increased sensitivity can manifest in several ways.

  • Too much magical energy is unhealthy. Subconsciously, the wizard will try to shed it (people without arcane talent are considered grounded (in the electrical sense of the word) and do not have such problems). Either will he infuse the energy into his artwork, as to balance his levels, and the artwork will appear enchanted, or he will instinctively draw patterns that are ultra-complicated runes of warding, thus creating a zone of calm manna around the artwork. These pieces will seem to exude an aura of calm, where objects look more defined, and shadows clearly cut, and sleep calm and dreamless.
  • Art may be influenced by the magical field; a wizard may be inspired by the energy currents without realizing. Thus, a very sensitive mage might actually draw the currents of manna themselves, thought all he wished to was to create a nice surreal background “ which might come in valuable for someone wishing to traverse a region of dangerous magic - an arch-mage may have depicted the raging magic as red streaks in one of his paintings of the countryside, just because he felt that looked right. A wizard living above a ley line of fire magic might feel an urge to draw red-headed women, or to depict them wearing gowns of yellow and scarlet, and his pictures would be very dynamic. One dwelling near a conflux of air energies might feel compelled to paint swirling motifs in the background, while the figures will have vivid, flying hair; a novel he writes will most probably pertain to freedom and travel. Of course, a mage dwelling above a water node might decide that a 50-m3 fish tank is what he needs for his antechamber, and he'd lovingly detail every shell, fake pirate shipwreck and stone pattern in it.

Aura and Art:
Many wizards perform aura readings routinely to determine the emotional state of a person, identify fellow wizards, or to detect possession or disease. The more sensitive react to auras instinctively.
If in the zone of influence of a person's aura, the wizard will' 'know' the person better. Should he be painting a portrait, he will capture the person's true self more accurately, plus depict changes that might not be apparent but subtly present in the aura. Thus, a cruel tyrant will have a feral snarl on his lips, though at first glance he'd seem to be smiling, a lycanthrope will have a bestial slant to his features, and an innocent maiden will have a healthy glow that seems to light up the room. Also, a person who has been poisoned would appear tired and weak in the painting giving valuable hints to investigators. So might the last portrait of an emperor show that he has been poisoned with a rare poison, though the wizard painting him was not consciously aware of the fact.
Music and lyrics would also be influenced a piece written in the presence of a warlord might be a vigorous march, while the text of a song written in the presence of a sensual woman would have many ambiguous parts, and might actually seem to be written in a female way, if her personality is strong enough, the wizard might for example appear homosexual to someone who reads said song, as for example a male hero is described in a way that shows that the author is interested in him in a romantic way, while all that happened was that the author perceived the lady's increase in interest and faint daydreams of said hero.

Spirits and Art:
A certain faith claims that depictions of humans steal their souls. What truth lies in this, what possibility?

  • If a statue or painting is accurate enough, the model's soul might venture to it after death. Perhaps the god of death has the likeliness of every person in his halls, drawing the soul to it after the body dies – a substitute residence for the soul. But if an artist's skill is supreme, the soul might venture to his piece instead, making it appear haunted or simply life-like. On a more sinister note, an accurate portrait might aid spells of control, or even of necromancy. Music is said to hold magic too. Certainly, spirits that were once able to enjoy music would not forfeit that delight in the afterlife so you might calm the poltergeist with a sonata, or a piper could lure zombies to follow him.
  • If a painting can capture the spirit of a person, why not that of a place? Wizards could use specially made paintings of distant places as aids for scrying and teleportation, while nature spirits could dwell in them even though their original home was destroyed.
  • Spirits tend to forget a lot about their lives as time passes. So the soul of a deceased hero might read the songs about himself to remember and grow to believe the exaggerations and fiction.

Symbols hold power. The better the symbol, the more power. Cultivated wizards might adopt an elaborate calligraphic approach to symbols, both to bring beauty to their art and confuse the layman – who does know which of those lines are really important?
Some symbols speak in a language primal and instinctive, one that circumvents the forts of reason, and strikes the old and intuitive parts of the brain. These symbols can be used to stun, scare, soothe or even kill someone beholding them. Other can convey information to anyone, regardless of language. Wizards, given their studious nature and fascination with the obscure, might become the keepers of such a mysterious script. (Think of it as of Plato's world of ideas. The symbol stands for the idea of a 'horse' and the soul instinctively knows that this means a 'horse' regardless of whether the person even knows what a horse is.)

Magic as a reaction to art:
As the magic influences the wizard, so does he influence the magic in turn. The flows of sorcery can follow patterns graphic, musical or spoken. Intuitive kinds of wizards can tell which patterns will alter the flow of magic, while the more studious kinds learn why and how such a thing happens. Painting, say, a noblewoman with a certain hairstyle with the highlights emphasised may actually lead to a potent spell hidden in the portrait, as does carving symbols resembling them into a standing stone. A smart wizard can hide spells into art, while the more blatant ones simply hammer them into monumental stones.
Similarly, words hold power, and certain sequences of words more so. A novel might voluntarily hold such a sequence, or a wizard in love might subconsciously weave a charm spell into the love poetry he is writing, while a heroic epic could hold a spell that evokes awe and reverence.

Art is imprinted with the authors emotions, desires, care, by his attention. If magic was a semi-sentient energy, it could be attracted to such obviously important objects. Neither understanding why the objects are of such importance, nor the concept of beauty, magic would notice that the individual who speaks to it cares about the piece more than sustenance, or mating. Thus it would surround the form as something utterly important, producing enchanted pieces. Commission art rarely is made with such effort, but emotional pieces, be they the first works or masterpieces crowning a career, would frequently hold magic.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Ancient Gamer
February 7, 2006, 16:05
Thank you EchoMirage, for answering my call to a debate on the nature of magic and art. The theories were certainly interesting, original and thought provoking. How can I not love that?

I would think the part of our flock who have less experience in the art of roleplaying might be confused by the theories, but personally I love them. Still I wish... I wish you had written more.

So the total score, for me, was 4.5. It was veeeery close to a 5.0, but not quite since I sorely missed more reading material.

This is an excellent addition to my The Magic of Art discussion and write up. Of course it receives a Hall of Honour award!

Oh, what would happen if a powerful mage, but a worthless artist, carelessly began to apply subconscious streams of magic to the canvas? *grin*
Voted Scrasamax
February 7, 2006, 17:05
who says it must be limited to matters of ink and paint? I think the same rules would apply for any of the other artistic mediums. Sculpture is certainly viable, and then there is the bleed-over between landscaping, geomancy, and feng shue...

A great piece of work.
Voted Iain
February 9, 2006, 4:50
A great article indeed - too many really good ideas to single any out.
Voted manfred
February 9, 2006, 11:36
Can you say Runecasting? I feel like stealing half of those ideas, and pondering about the rest.

You could create another whole school of magic based on this article. Wizard-artists with unexpected powers. Good work really.
Voted Murometz
May 7, 2006, 10:47
Calligraphy!! Very Nice!!
June 10, 2006, 19:15
A fascinating subject!
July 18, 2006, 14:23
BUMPING inspiration for Tenebrists! (Shadow Codex)
Voted valadaar
September 16, 2016, 9:28
This is an excellent piece! Nice ideas!

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