D&D 5E World Building: Did magic evolve?


Follower of the Way
Google says El-Adrin is Arabic for Tuberculosis.
So, firstly, I'm literally just taking the regular D&D name, "eladrin," and pronouncing it differently (EL-ah-DREEN, as opposed to el-AD-rinn.) Secondly, and more importantly, there are actually several different Arabic words that can potentially be transliterated as "el adrin," and only one of those words is "tuberculosis." The second is one of the Arabic terms for Jordan, the nation, relating to an ancient Semitic root word meaning "descent," implicitly the descent of water and thus a river, pool, watering-place, etc. Another may be related to an ancient Assyrian word for "help" or "aid" (and is closer, in terms of vowels, than either the "tuberculosis" meaning or the "literally the country of Jordan" meaning.)

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TLDR: The Gods took advantage of a naturally existing delivery method to give power to mortals in order to obtain worhip - which grants them more power.

In my setting: The first Gods were few in number and mostly ignored their living creations. That was until 12 of these creations discovered 12 sources of power that were spread evenly around the massive primary planet of my setting. This raised up these Dragons, Giants and Primordials to the powers of Gods themselves. Over 7 thousand years some of those Gods were cast down and others assumed control of those sources of power. These Gods infused their power into other Gods to expand and create pantheons - but except for the original few beings, all Gods had their power tied to these few Temples of Power.

Several thousand years later Asmodeus discovered another source of power - the soul power of mortals. If this power was devoted to a Divine Being, either via faith or pact, that God grew in power. It took a lot of soul power to make a dent, but there were a decent number of mortals. To encourage worship the Gods began to grant DIVINE MAGIC to their followers. It was dlivered via the Weave, a network that runs from the core of the Positive Energy Plant to the core of the Negative Energy Plan. The Gods use that weave as a delivery system for their magic. Some few beings had already learned to use it to deliver NATURE MAGIC (druids, rangers, etc...), and others would later learn to steal from it to create ARCANE MAGIC.


I was thinking about this, though in the context of how primal, divine, arcane, and so on came about that individual spells. The history of magic in Tales of the Final Age is one of the “non-objective” parts of the setting; spellcasters, historians, and spellcasting historians have multiple theories. The simplest is the “Universalist” theory, which posits that all magic is ultimately diriged from a single source (a very controversial position in universe).

In the age of Civilization 0, it was said that everyone was a sorcerer (but this might be an exaggeration based on nostalgia shortly after the end of Civilization 0). The world had not yet completed its long transition from dream to reality, and its laws were fluid and suggestible. When the world became too real to support Civilization 0 and the unreality was partitioned into the Dreamworld (which contains the Feywild and Shadowfell), most lost their inherent power and the first traditions of magic started to form.

The era after Civilization 0 was named the Fiendish Age for good reason. It was a harsh time when humanity (a term that encompasses all sapient people) were under attack by living concepts and shards of primordial forces; not to mention the many wars that arose from a now confused, frightened, and angry populace. Development of magical traditions became a means of survival, and later a mark of group identity. From a Universalist perspective, those who turned to faith in the powers of the Heavens developed divine and pact magic, those who found refuge in the world itself primal magic, and those who relied on personal power found the secrets of ki or psionics (closely related and possibly synonymous concepts). Almost all of these groups would disagree with that theory, but few deny these were the earliest forms of magic.

Alchemy spun off from primal, the use of the substances of the world lead to their study and discovery of how to manipulate them in new ways. As it developed, alchemy became increasingly controversial to the druids, and eventually there was a formal split between the traditions. Arcane magic, one of the last forms to come about, was developed in different ways in different locations. In some places, it was a further development from alchemy, in others clerics discovered it by experimenting with the syllables in divine invocations. Unlike most traditions which claim to be what people used from the start, wizards tend to embrace the relative newness of their magic, seeing it as the capstone of humanity’s progress.

(I start to stray from the original topic here.)
Despite this claim, it was alchemy that would have its time in the sun following the Frindish Age. Continued discoveries lead to an incredible invention: sapient constructs. Awed at the potential, the greatest minds in the field joined with the wisest of the world’s philosophers to plan the greatest creation ever made by mortal hands. The Engraved Emperor was created to be the perfect ruler, a stone and metal king endowed with all the wisdom of the peoples of the world, but lacking their internal weaknesses that often caused them to stray from what they knew to be the right path. The Engraved Emperor did indeed become a reality, and from their flying city of Resphar they ushered in the Engraved Age.

But this is the history of magic, not of the world of Elucinor as a whole. Suffice to say, not even the Emperor could build and maintain the utopia they longed for, and Resphar fell to a variety of earthly and supernatural problems. Much knowledge was lost in the Void Age, and magic nearly became a lost art, its secrets guarded by only a handful of enclaves. In many ways it was a more fearful time than the Fiendish Age, as though there were fewer and less powerful fiends and sorrowsworn in the world, humanity also had fewer means to protect itself.

Two states managed to keep the knowledge of magic alive, though in rather frightening forms to most of the people outside them. Vanalesse were the undisputed masters of ki/psionics, and preserve much of wizardry and alchemy, but persecuted clerics, druids, and warlocks. While disparate villages and clans turned to Vanalesse for protection, it held to no concept that power should be used altruistically, and demanded a heavy toll for its aid. Rahimo was another civilization built around Yulath, a tree planted by the Emperor in a desperate last attempt to contain the dark forces at rise in Elucinor. They gave their help to the people more freely, but their skills had developed to be able to use the forces of darkness to their own ends, a deeply uncomfortable practice for the people that sought their help.

The war between Vanalesse and Rahimo left both nations crippled and the roots of Yulath burned, allowing the dark forces to reemerge at full force; starting what many believed to be the Final Age of Elucinor. But humanity’s ability at magic is also waxing once more. Investigation into this phenomenon reveals that the Dreamworld is starting to reunite with the material world. No one knows what the implications of this will be.
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Back in 1e/2e days I thought that divine magic came first and the gods hoarded it from mortals. Monsters such as dragons and genies were the first to create arcane magic in response to not being allowed the divine magic- or maybe wanting more destructive magic, or even not wanting to serve a god and thought themselves more divine instead. Over time, more of the common/PHB races learn arcane magic, so now there is 2 types.

3e comes along and has the sorcerer class and all PHB races that can cast both arcane and divine magic. Never really thought where sorcerer fits, maybe more as a mutant that had old magic in his blood. 4e/5e kind of waters things more with all the classes being able to cast magic with certain sub-classes and lists magic out more with primal added. 3e had more rules for making spells and signature spells for casters that were more potent than the next guys.

I have not had a player in 5e want or ask to make a spell. The ones we have seem good enough. I think some is that my group was more into character development and now more just to hang around with each other.


I am a big fan of a bunch of the magical concepts from Mage the Ascension. They have a concept of Pattern which applies in many dimensions across reality such as shape, identity, form, etc. To polymorph you temporarily alter your pattern as it manifests to a different outer pattern which is magically pretty easy. Permanent changes to your core pattern are difficult but can be done.

In D&D magic I think of this coming across as True Names, spells as discretely defined magical effects, the specific schools of magic, etc. An aspect of metaphysical Law in the game.

So wizards in D&D have always done spells as discrete effects of magic according to specific formulae. They tap into magical power and channel it into specific defined forms in ways they know will work. They also do spell research to come up with new spells.

So a new spell is a new Pattern channeling magic into a new distinct way to get a specific effect. Others can use the same form to also get the new effect.

I see that as the normal progression, magic exists, research and experimentation is done to get a stable form that works and is replicable, then it is replicated and used by casters.

So originally not many spells but over time there are more and more developments and wizards have more and more options.

Wizards are the scientific experimenters and engineers working with magic in the game universe. My concept of them is that they know techniques for tapping into magic that exists. Anyone can theoretically learn to do wizard magic and spells, but they are difficult things to pull off.

Sorcerers just do magic through blood and will and power without knowing formulae and technique and such, but since the Patterns of spells exist, that is how they manifest. I see sorcerers as just channeling magic and it naturally flows into the Patterns that exist, particularly established ones. Since arcane wizard spells exist that is a convenient pattern for raw channeled magic to manifest as complete with things like required components.

It is not fully the same, so some wizard spells do not work as sorcerer spells, usually the more technical end of things that hew closer to the technical specific end of things (like spells affecting spellbook usage).

Sorcery is closer to primal magic manipulation, but in effect they incorporate some arcane patterns into themselves (spells known) and channel magic into these patterns. In effect while being directly in touch with raw magic, they are piggybacking a bit on the work of wizards who established the Patterns of spells.


I can't believe you guys are so bad with history. Magic has never changed, but how mortals interact with it has evolved over the ages.

Back when the world was young, before their realms were sundered from our own plane, and the gods walked among us, mortal magic was common but rarely powerful. The gods, spirits, and other mighty beings wielded magic as easily as we breathe. Their mere presence was enough cause reality to warp around them. Mortals that simply existed near these powerful entities began to naturally exhibit magical powers of their own (sorcerers.) Other mortals began to worship these beings (clerics,) or bargain with them for a thimblefull of their power (warlocks.) Still others felt a strong pull to the primal energies suffusing the creations of these powers (druids.) Others found the sounds of power in the voices of the gods, and teased out enough meaning to replicate that power through song (bards.)

It was only much later that less blessed mortals began to attempt to emulate these powers. They studied the stars of the sky, and the paths of migrating birds. They mixed elements, both benign and foul. They experimented with the bones of slain monsters, and the blood of fallen gods. But most important, they developed ways to record what they learned. These early mages were the birth of the written word. They were seekers of knowledge. They were pioneers. And the 3 brother gods, now known as the gods of magic, took notice.

Guided by the unseen hands of the brothers, mortals unlocked the secrets of magic for the first time. Not simply echoing the power of the gods, but actually creating new effects, new paths, new disciplines of magic. Not superior to that of the gods own magic, but tailored to the needs of mortal men. The power of these wizards eventually surpassed that of all the other disciples of magic, as their hunger for more, their insatiable quest to develop their art further, pushed them to new heights. Mortals may never match the power of the gods, but these wizards may oneday come close.

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