The Sable Magic System

Sable Magic was designed to power a magical based society and the technology therein – such as Sable or Terra Magica, its forerunner – and is capable of rather more than the normal ADRPG version of sorcery. The magic itself comes from the internal power of the mage themself, rather than reliance on an external force, with the variations in spells and specialities being related to how the internal magical energy is directed. Because of this, Sable mages often need a higher endurance than many other mortal practitioners of magic.

The “Talent” is the name for the genetic mutation that gives Sable mages the means to cast their magic, and is therefore at the very heart of Sable society. Some form of the Talent is present in about one in a thousand people, with varying degrees of strength, although once in a family it often runs true in successive generations. On rare occasions, a person can learn spells if the Talent isn’t present but they have a particularly strong will, but they will only ever manage to attain the lowest degree of magical education, or more likely become ritualists.

There are different levels of ability in this form of magic, but the basic theory is that for varying amounts of points spent over the basic 15, the mage’s potential is greater. Magic becomes far more rapid (instead of 45 minutes to an hour, casting time drops to from 10 minutes to just a minute or two to cast) and does not need lynch-pins. Spells can be racked mentally, with a maximum of 10-12 spells rackable at any given time, although these do need to be maintained. The time required for this varies depending on the skill and strength of the mage.

The magic can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Powering everyday technology (eg “boiler” spells for anything from kettles to steam engines, light spells which can be turned on and off with a switch)
  • Transportation across and between Shadows
  • Long-distance communications
  • Destruction (fireballs, lightning bolts, explosives, demolition, etc.)
  • Defence (warding, personal shields)
  • Scanning (similar to a Pattern lens, only restricted to the Shadow the mage is on)
  • Investigation/forensics (although these spells take somewhat longer to cast)
  • Healing and magical and mental surgery

Sable Magic, as learned by the Talented, is split into a number of fields of study. All students have a basic grounding in all areas, including magical theory, with partial and full specialisations coming with further study. An idea of what is covered in each grouping, and what is attainable at various levels, is detailed on the other pages in this section, although this is not an all-inclusive list.

With respect to whether spells can be used remotely (i.e. down a farseeing spell), these may work if the effect is environmental, depending on the spell and whatever warding may be on the target area, and things like getting a remote teleport destination would work, as it’s just looking and identifying a location. They do not work if the spell is invasive to man or beast (e.g. a sleep spell).

There is also a less common field of ritual magic within Sable, however there are tight restrictions on its use and anything darker than grey in nature is stamped out with the utmost force. Ritual magicians will not necessarily be Talented, although if they practice, they are expected to register with the Magical Oversight Council. One of the specific sub-fields of ritual magic, blood magic, is banned except by special licence, and non-licensed practitioners are arrested and imprisoned or executed. There are only four registered blood magicians within the Kingdom of Sable, and their identities are guarded jealously by the Council.

Magic and Sable Society

Sable Society is oriented towards a magic-based way of life. Therefore, instead of technology as we know it on Earth developing, a magic-based technology is the norm. The tech level is currently approximately equivalent to early-1920s era, although as conjuration becomes more common, this is likely to rise (note recent innovations in magical broadcasting and central power generation).

The non-Talented on Sable have come to accept the mages as part of their everyday life. However, the instincts of humans to fear or distrust those who are different to them are still in the populous, and therefore the Talented make sure that they publicly police their own, to make sure that they do not antagonise the rather more numerous non-Talented. This is also part of the reason behind blocking wild Talent in children: so a child doesn’t accidentally harm a non-Talented person, thus incurring the wrath of those people against the mages.

While at college, would-be mages are taught to behave in a responsible way in their magical dealings, and are left with no illusions about the strict penalties they will incur should they ignore their responsibilities, or flaunt the laws governing mages and magical workings. On graduation, they are expected to swear an oath to uphold their responsibilities, and to obey the rules mages should live by, as set by the Council.

The Testing Board

Given that mages are uncommon, and at the same time key to the running of society, a system has been set in place such that all school children of 13-14 are tested for the Talent. Any children who are found to have it are encouraged to go to Mage College to study, although it does remain optional. In addition, those who do not have the Talent per se, or who have failed to complete a full course of study, but have the strength of will to manage the simpler magics, are also encouraged to bring out their potential. Even the weakest mage has something to contribute to a magical society.

Tests are carried out by the Testing Board. Its representatives are trained to look within the mind of a subject to see if the genetic trigger that will allow the Talent to develop is present.

In addition, on rare occasions the Talent can manifest spontaneously in children from age about twelve upwards, if the child is particularly strongly Talented. Normally this will only occur if the child is under serious stress, or in a life-threatening situation. Should such a manifestation occur, the other function of the Testing Board comes into play: Testing Board officials are empowered to temporarily block the Talent so that neither the child nor anyone else gets hurt by wild spells. Such a block can easily be removed when the child is old enough to go to mage school. As a note, children who do manifest the Talent early often go on to be the strongest mages in Sable.

The Testing Board also is usually the first group to identify Sensitives who, once discovered, are immediately given a qualified mage or Sensitive mentor to educate them in the safe, beneficial usage of their ability.

The Sable Magical Oversight Council

The purpose of the Magical Oversight Council is as the governing body for all Sable and Commonwealth mages. The idea is that all mages should live and work by a set of specific guidelines, which protect both themselves and the non-Talented, thus maintaining the status quo between the two sections of society. To this end, the Council makes the laws by which the mages live – over and above the normal rule of law in the society; investigates breaches of those laws (such as using spells recklessly, or mentally interfering with another person, either Talented or non-Talented); and dispenses justice when necessary.

Penalties for breaking the laws range from a temporary or permanent blocking of the Talent (there are a handful of mages on Sable who are trained to be able to completely eradicate the Talent from one who has abused it, over and above the more common skill of blocking the Talent temporarily), to imprisonment and death for particularly heinous crimes such as ritual black magic, demonology and necromancy.

In addition, the Council is responsible for settling disputes between mages: either by normal rule of law or, if that is not going to work, by ordering a duel arcane. In by far the majority of cases, duel arcane is not to the death – although accidents can happen – and involves a combat between the two mages concerned, in a strictly controlled environment and using nothing more than the basic spells taught to everyone at mage college. Breaches of this protocol will be severely punished.

Visiting and newly-returned mages are expected to register with the Council within forty-eight hours of arriving in the Kingdom of Sable.

All mages have their own specific magical signature, which is a factor of the mage’s psyche and training/magical education. The Council keeps a record of all signatures of mages who have graduated within Sable and the Commonwealth Veils. To attempt to change one’s magical signature is very difficult and technically illegal. The best that can probably be done is change the element within it which relates to magical education. Any change in the psychic element would have a much more obvious effect on a magical signature.

As at January SY153, the membership of the SMOC was: King Robert, Queen Claire, Archbishop Dennis Dessain, Minister Simon Ellis, Professor Martin Blake, Sir Marcus Court, Comte Francesco Ragoczy, Brigadier-General Richard Patterson, Trudie Collins (representing Murray) and Sir Adam Sinclair KG (non-resident liaison with the equivalent body on Terra Magica).

Mage College

The foremost Mage College on Magica Superior and within Sable’s lands is the Sable Mage College, located in the Sable City. The other mage school in the Kingdom itself is the Sable College of Military Magic, which is attached to Sable Military Academy, and specialises in more military applications (futher details about the SCMM can be found here).

Other mage colleges exist all around the Commonwealth, on those Shadows where magic is common, and there are also institutes for learning magic within the Reich and its territories.

Bachelor of Magic (BMg)

Studying for a Bachelor of Magic degree takes five years (assuming no resits). Students normally go up to mage school when they are eighteen or nineteen, although particularly gifted children can sometimes enter college a year early. This course gives the would-be mages a theoretical and practical grounding in all the various types of magic. In addition, they are taught the history of magic, study how it has become such an important part of society, and have instilled into them the responsibilities that must be undertaken when they graduate.

At the end of the five-year course, they will achive the degree of Bachelor. This is the level where 70% of mages complete their studies (call it 15pt level in most cases).

On graduation, all mages are given a mage’s Signet: a combination of their license to practice magic, and their symbol of rank within the magical society. A new Signet is awarded at Master level, and again with their Doctorate. In addition to being the mage’s licence, the Signet is the focus which the majority of mages use to store and rack spells if they cannot do so mentally. Signets are built by certain of the professors at the various mage colleges, and are personalised to each individual student, so that he/she and only he/she can wear and use that Signet.

If, for any reason, a student should fail to finish their Bachelor’s degree, they will still be recorded with the Magical Oversight Council as a potential mage unless their Talent is blocked – either voluntarily, or as a result of disciplinary procedures. Failed students who retain an active Talent are also expected to be licensed, this taking the form of a silver band, worn on the little finger, which has no facility for racking spells. Such students often find employment in some of the magical manufacturing facilities or some other areas.

Partial and Single-Track Specialisation

In the fourth or fifth years, if they have showed particular aptitude, they may also begin to consider specialistions, although this is not particularly common: many students don’t have the aptitude to move much beyond basic levels. However, the more gifted ones may improve their basic grounding to a little beyond what would be counted as “basic” level, say in matters of duration, concentration and range (GM agreement would be needed to work out the extent of these additions to basic level), or they may acquire one “partial” level class.

A logical extension of this which is beginning to gain traction is “single-track specialisation”. Several classes of magic have various different “tracks” within them – for example illusion covers areas as wide-ranging as basic illusions, pseudo-invisibility, theatrical magic, sleight of hand, etc; and investigative covers scanning, truth reading, criminal investigation, etc. Some young mages are now beginning to specialise in one of these tracks, rather than studying all of them equally. A single-track specialisation effectively means that a mage can choose to work towards partial and then full specialisation in, say, theatrical magic, while leaving all the other aspects of Illusion at less than basic level.

Master of Magic (MMg)

To return to study for a Masters allows the student to specialise further, but it cannot be reached without the Talent present and stronger than normal. This can take between one and three years, depending on how many areas the student wishes to study. The basics will be further built upon, the relevent grounding “lab” spells for the new specialisation will be taught – kind of a ‘toolkit’ for further study in that subject – and any partial specialisations they may have taken before will be further studied.

Masters courses include the mundane, as well as magical sides of the disciplines they wish to pursue: for example a student who chooses to specialise in structural magics (keeping buildings up, bringing them down) needs an understanding of the principals of civil engineering, or a would-be healer needs medical skills. A student will normally graduate Masters with either one discipline at “full”, but no partials; or a couple of “partials” but no fulls. This is where 25% of the rest of the Sable mages are pitched.

Doctor of Magic (DMg)

Multiple full specialisations only become available once the student decides to work for their Doctorate in Magic. This builds on the knowledge they have attained to partial specialisation, both arcane and the mundane courses to back up the arcane actions, for example, a student who decides to become a full fledged mage-healer or mage-surgeon would be expected to take courses as part of a medical degree, also.

Studying for a Doctorate takes a further two to three years, depending on the specialisation or specialisations taken. The mage is likely to end their Doctorate programme with either one discipline up to specific specialisation level; or two at “full”. They may also have one or two at “partial”. It is unusual for even the oldest mages to take more than two or three full specialisations in their lives, as it takes an amount of time to maintain the knowledge and keep up to date with the latest developments. Only about 5% of all mages are good enough to reach this level of ability (or 1 in 20,000 of the Sable population).


Occasionally, someone will be found who is either exceedingly weakly Talented – ie their Talent isn’t strong enough even to train as the most basic kind of mage – or perhaps has a flawed Talent, which is strong but for some reason cannot be trained by normal means, but who demonstrates some kind of unusual affinity or ability. This may be an ability they have from birth, or it may develop in later life due to specific stresses or experiences. These individuals are known as Sensitives, although what specifically makes someone a Sensitive, rather than leaving them with just a weak or broken Talent, is still a matter of great interest and investigation amongst the magical community.

Sensitive abilities can take a number of different forms: examples include the ability to feel magical or other arcane emanations, to unerringly spot black magic and its practitioners, being particularly empathic as far as feeling strong emotions in others, an affinity for the psychic without actually being able to cast spells, being able to seek for something or attune to something and know where it is thereafter, or have what is known in common parlance as Second Sight. There are even some mages who demonstrate the characteristics of Sensitives, which has led to further debate on the nature of this particular ability.