"Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."
In the universe of Dream Chasers, "sorcery" is a catch-all term used to describe various disciplines that allow people to channel natural forces and energies into desired shapes and effects. Sorcery is distinct from Technique and ARMs, both of which can do impressive things that look like magic, but focus on internal energies or advanced technology, respectively.
The term "magic" is generally frowned upon by Filgaian sorcerers, as it implies they just sort of wave their hands and cause things to happen. To a sorcerer, nothing could be further from the truth. Sorcerous disciplines follow strict rules; although they may seem strange and inscrutable to the layman, sorcery obeys laws just like any branch of study, and an expert can't use it without understanding those laws.
Sorcery thus requires both training and discipline, which has led to the formation of a variety of schools dedicated to its study across the planet. These schools and traditions differ in the specific way in which natural energies are channeled. These differences carry significant IC weight -- rivalries between magic schools or different philosophies can be as intense as any religious conflict, and are nearly as likely to turn bloody. But from a practical perspective, no one school is inherently more powerful than any other.
An overview of the major sorcerous disciplines follows below. These different schools provide a good variety of choices for prospective sorcerers, and players should choose one of these disciplines to follow when building characters. OC applications that involve the creation of a new kind of sorcery are unlikely to be approved, and will be heavily scrutinized. There needs to be a justifiable reason for why your blend of sorcery needs to be different beyond just wanting it to be special.
Symbology is known in the Pangalactic Federation as the "universal sorcery" -- multiple variations on this discipline have appeared on planets across the breadth of known space, and operate using similar rules and techniques. In short, Symbologists tattoo their bodies with special runes in mystic inks; these runes, combined with incantations and hand gestures, allow them to shape spells.
Symbology has been practiced for thousands of years, and is an extremely flexible discipline. Advanced Symbologists are capable of using Symbols on inanimate objects, allowing effects to either be triggered on a continuous basis (think an ever-flowing fountain) or once activated (think a levitation-based elevator). These "magitech" devices are difficult to create, mostly expensive, often dangerous, and therefore highly sought-after.
Symbology is incredibly flexible in its effects, much like Crest Sorcery. One sorcerer is capable of using, theoretically, many types of spells: combat spells of multiple elements, status condition spells, and various utility spells. However, the Symbols tattooed on them tend to force some specialization. A mage specializing in powerful bombardment spells may not have Symbols well-suited to incredibly precise levitation and telekinetic spells.
Also of note is that Symbology also carries one widely-known limitation: it cannot be used to heal injuries. Experiments to discover the source of this limitation -- and ways around it -- have never succeeded.
Characters from any origin may choose Symbology as a discipline.
Crest Sorcerers carry strips of paper called Crest Graphs, onto which they (or rather, a trained Guild professional) scribe Crests that shape their power along the desired routes. It is a common misconception on Filgaia that Symbologists simply apply the principles of Crest Sorcery to their own body as opposed to a Graph; in fact, Symbols and Crests bear little resemblance to each other. This does not make the rumours go away, nor the professional rivalries any less spiteful.
The reliance on Crest Graphs is the defining trait of Crest Sorcerers; it represents their greatest strength and weakness. Symbologists have greater flexibility in the application of their arts (such as using them on inanimate objects), but their spells cannot be changed once learned. By contrast, a Crest Sorcerer preparing to enter a dungeon filled with fire monsters can stop by the local Guild and recombine her Crests to emphasize fire resistance and ice attack.
Crest Sorcery is practiced exclusively by Filgaians, and is the most common form of sorcery on the planet.
This discipline is tied heavily to worship of the Guardians, the many godly spirits that protected Filgaia in ages past. Most native beings born on Filgaia have some natural affinity to these spirits, and minor users the world over can invoke local spirits to perform simple tasks -- such as predicting the weather and wind patterns, raising or lowering local temperature, promoting health, and so on.
More advanced casters receive abilities directly from the Guardians themselves. Using objects known as Mediums -- stone tablets bearing a fragment of a Guardian's power -- shamans can channel extremely powerful sorcerous effects. The spells that can be cast by a specific Medium are tied to the Guardian they represent; a tablet blessed by the Guardian of Love would be capable of granting the power to mend wounds or affect emotions, but calling lightning bolts would be extremely unlikely.
In present-day Filgaia, shamanism is largely practiced in the hinterlands, and in secret. Most formal religions, particularly the Gazel Ministry, consider Guardian worship to be pagan superstition, and stories of persecution of Guardian-worshipping villages are not uncommon. In addition, the Mediums required to use these abilities have also been scattered by the ages. And lastly, only the Baskar tribes -- or the Guardians themselves -- can grant a person the ability to cast spells via Mediums.
As shamanism originates from a link to the Guardians of Filgaia, only characters born on that planet are allowed to choose this discipline. Information on the Guardians can be found at their respective file.
A rare example of the fusion of magic and technology from the ancient era persevering into present day, artificial Mediums are as their name implies: technology designed to emulate the abilities a Medium provides for shamans. The key difference is the simple fact that anyone of Filgaia can make use of an artificial Medium as long as they know how to use one, regardless of whether they are a Baskar or not.
Artificial Mediums are rare but not impossible to find. Most of these variations of Mediums are "copies"; there is only one "Original" artificial Medium per Guardian in Filgaia. All other Mediums are cruder replications of the Originals. Copies must have been imprinted with the data of an original, like making a backup file, but otherwise function exactly like the Originals, which function exactly like a regular Medium: the artificial Medium forges a connection between its user and Filgaia, amplifying their abilities and giving the capacity to perform a variety of magical feats depending on the Guardian that is being channeled. Artificial Mediums can even call upon the Guardians directly just like their "natural" counterparts.
The chief difference between original artificial Mediums and their copies is the fact that copies can only be used by those creatures native to Filgaia. Creatures and species who do not hail from Filgaia or are so drastically altered Filgaia no longer recognizes them -- Metal Demons, Veruni, and so on -- can not make use of a copy. Originals, however, can be used by anyone -- provided they actually have the original, a fact that is easier said than done. Original artificial Mediums seem to have a will of their own -- and a tendency to gravitate towards specific individuals...
Characters from any origin can use artificial Mediums provided they are from a native Filgaian species. Original Mediums inevitably end up in the hands of specific individuals and thus are restricted.
Ether is the school of sorcery practiced by soldiers of Solaris, and is unlike anything else seen on Filgaia. Unlike any other sorcerer, Ether users need only focus their will on a desired magical effect in order to create it; they have no need for Crests, Symbols, or Mediums to do so. Moreover, these Ether powers can be channeled and amplified by specially-designed Gears, making Solaris's sorcerers even more frightening and alien than their ordinary soldiers.
The specific theory behind Ether is considered a national secret of the highest order in Solaris. Not even all of its users know exactly how it functions; they simply use it. Non-Solarians who can channel Ether occasionally appear, and are of enormous interest to Solarian leadership. Wild Ether users interested in living a long life generally disguise their abilities as arising from another discipline (usually Symbology).
Ether's spells are elemental, but with a wide range of effects that include healing, attack spells, and status-causing spells. Most Ether users can only use a single element, but ones who can use two elements are not unheard of. Those who can use three or even four elements are rare, but not prohibitively so.
All Solaris-born FCs and OCs may request access to Ether abilities. Wild Ether users are rare, and OC applications will be heavily scrutinized.
Veruni sorcery is considered Ether. It looks very similar in form and function, operating on the same rules as the Ether sorcery found in the rest of Filgaia. Only the most experienced Solarian and Veruni scholars could identify the two forms of Ether as related, but entirely separate, practices that achieve the same broad effects and rules. The average layperson would find them indistinguishable and equally terrifying.
The Blessing of Althena
Sorcery on Lunar is as close to what could be considered true magic as anything in existence. It is broadly divided into two categories, white and black magic, both of which have the same source: the divine blessing of the Goddess Althena, bestowed upon the people of Lunar in antiquity.
The potential to use magic is determined at birth, and is inherited along family lines. As such, the Blessing of Althena has spread across Lunar over centuries, and even common swordsmen are likely to know a spell or two. To become a true magician, however, those with the potential must train their minds and bodies to cast spells, and the types of spells a person can cast tend to align with their personal affinities. Most black magic users will use spells from a single element. The most gifted can, with training, use two. In the history of Lunar, the number of wizards who could cast spells from three elements or more can be counted on a single hand -- the most notable of them being the Dragonmaster, Ghaleon.
The only formal schools of magic remaining on Lunar are located in Pentagulia (where Althena's priesthood learns white magic and healing) and the city of Neo-Vane, ruled by the Black Wizard Borgan, one of the Four Heroes. The original Magic Guild of Vane has fallen into disrepair and disrepute over the centuries, and is barely holding on.
Seraphim can use magic naturally. Unlike humans, they can utilize white and black magic both, and these spells come to them as natural projections of power rather than incantations. As elemental spirits, Seraphim possess one element. All of their spells, without exception, must use these elements.
All FCs and OCs born on Lunar possess the Blessing of Althena, and can cast either white or black magic, never both. The only exceptions to this rule are those who can access the goddess's power directly: Althena herself, her Seraphim, and her champion, the Dragonmaster. A Shepherd capable of using an Armatus can, when combined with a Seraph that serves them, use both types of magic (but only of that Seraph's element).
This means that Tales of Zestiria human FCs can also use magic, unlike their source material.
The Blessing of Althena exists in Spira, though as the Goddess is not widely known there, it does not bear that name; it is instead attributed as a blessing given to humans to better their lives with. Because of this, White Magic is far more prevalent in Spira than Black Magic. Black Magic is viewed as destructive and more associated with (until recently) outsiders, such as the Guado and the Al Bhed. Most Yevonite black magic users tend to use their powers to enhance weapon attacks.
Both have adapted to different traditions. "Cure" and "Cura" are considered the standard healing spells, while "Fire" and "Thundara" are common fire and lightning elemental spells. While the White and Black Magic of Spira come from the same source, these magics have had a thousand years to adopt specific forms of spells utterly alien to the practitioners in Vane and Neo-Vane.
Available elements are: Earth, Wind, Fire, Ice, Water, Lightning, Light, Shadow.
Aeons are creatures composed of pyreflies, which are given form by the bond of a Spiran Summoner to the Fayth. The Fayth statues contain the souls of once living people, and Summoners make a powerful bond with them. It is not innate magical energy, studying, or talent that determines the precise form and the strength of the resulting Aeon.
Instead, Summoners' Aeons are shaped and strengthened by their supernatural emotional connection with the Fayth. This means that the resulting Aeons can have different levels of power, abilities, and sometimes appearance details. Additionally, Aeons may (but do not have to) receive different names from different Summoners.
No currently living Summoner, except for that one guy, has created a Final Aeon, and the means by which this is done is unknown (other than “go to Zanarkand at the end of your Pilgrimage”).
The Power of Darkness
The raw energy of evil which exists outside of many of the current magical systems, the raw energy of darkness and chaos is mostly associated with agents of chaos, death, and destruction. Superficially similar to both Shamanism and Althena's Blessing, the Power of Darkness is generally channeled willingly (or at times unwillingly) from one of the dark powers that are currently infesting Filgaia and Lunar. These fell powers can duplicate many of the effects of other types of magic, and a multi-disciplinary sorcerer is often the sign of someone who has sold their soul to darkness.
Most notable and common of those with dark powers are the Hellions, the anathema to the Goddess Althena. The fell powers that create Hellions can twist and warp the natural magics of those that are infused with them, creating new and unusual effects. Creatures infused by this power will eventually twist and warp into the unnatural shapes that Hellions are known for. It is said that the Lord of Calamity can reshape humans into such forms far quicker than it occurs "naturally," though Lucia the Destroyer has yet to do so.
The Dark God Valmar is another example of such a being. And while he has been shattered and no longer provides blessings to its followers, contact with one of its shattered pieces can provide tremendous power at the cost of the user's soul.
This type of magic also covers exotic and unspecified sources of energy, such as Lord Blazer's calamitous magics or the magics of demons or other creatures from beyond the mortal veil which might appear on Filgaia. In general, only villainous characters will have access to this sort of power: any heroic FCs or OCs who gain access to the powers of darkness will likely only do so as part of a plot, and users should be aware of their dark and corruptive influences. Justification will be needed for non-antagonist characters who use these powers as a part of their standard skills.