Arcane magic—cold and intellectual— is a magic that warps time and space, and controls the flow of mana, which is just a measure of a fundamental power—if mana were water, then arcane would be steam pressure.
Arcane magic can be pulled from ley lines, channels of immense magical power that coursed through the earth itself. The ley lines were like blood vessels of the earth, carrying magic instead of scarlet fluid.
Arcane constructs are creations spawned of pure mana and intellect. In the right hands, a construct allows its user to quickly assimilate vast riches of arcane knowledge.
Fel constructs are what Infernals are. Destroying them is only part of the solution. The stone that infernals are made of still contains large amounts of fel magic even after the infernal's death. The rubble of slain infernals leeches its corruption back into the ground.
Arcane mysteries are the mysteries of life and death. Death, in the form of necromantic magic, acts as a counterbalance to life. It is an unavoidable force that breeds despair in mortal hearts and pushes everything toward a state of entropic decay and eventual oblivion. It is said that the sacrifice of life was the only way to ensure the saving of another. Sacrificial magic was considered the greatest violation of life and the energies of life, known commonly as nature magic, promote growth and renewal in all things. In the physical universe, the forces of life and death hold sway over every living thing.
Before life began, before even the cosmos took shape, there was Light and Void. The Light swelled across all existence in the form of a boundless sea, unfettered by the confines of time and space. The ocean of Light was dynamic and ever shifting. As it expanded, some of its energies faded and dimmed, leaving behind pockets of nothingness. A new power coalesced and came to be from the absence of Light in these spaces. This power was the Void, a dark and vampiric force driven to devour all energy, to twist creation inward to feed upon itself. The Void grew and spread its influence, moving against the waves of Light. The tension between these two opposite yet inseparable forces eventually ignited a series of explosions, rupturing the fabric of creation and birthing a new realm into existence. In that moment, the physical universe was born. The energies released by the clash of Light and Void raged across the nascent cosmos, raw matter merging and spinning into primordial worlds without number-the Great Dark Beyond-broiled in a maelstrom of fire and magic.
An Astral Dimension
The most unstable energies coalesced into an astral dimension known as the Twisting Nether. The creatures that emerged from this turbulent realm were known as demons. They had been formed as a result of the Light and Void energies that had bled together at the borders of the Twisting Nether. The demons embraced their furious passions and reveled in pushing the boundaries of their power, heedless of the consequences. Many of these aberrations indulged in the highly volatile energy that pervaded the Nether. Some learned to wield the all-consuming powers of fel magic and, before long, the bloodthirsty demons clawed their way into the physical universe, terrorizing mortal civilizations and bringing world after world.
The cataclysmic birth of the cosmos flung shards of Light throughout reality. These shards suffused the matter of myriad worlds with the spark of life, giving rise to creatures of wondrous and terrible diversity. Composed of the primordial matter from which the universe, the titans are godlike beings who were uniquely susceptible (and therefore connected) to fel magic. Their spirits—known as world-souls—formed deep within the fiery core of a small number of worlds. For ages, these nascent titans slumbered, their energies suffusing the celestial bodies they inhabited. When the titans awoke, they did so as living worlds.
Ordering of the Universe
Legends hold that the name of the first titan was Aman'Thul. Intent on finding more titans, he explored the worlds of the Great Dark Beyond. His quest was lonely and arduous, but ultimately fulfilling. In time, he discovered other nascent world-souls. Aman'Thul nurtured these kin and roused them from slumber. Those who awakened devoted themselves to his search. Aman'Thul and his siblings became known as the Pantheon. They were benevolent by nature, creatures aligned with order and stability. The titans of the Pantheon realized that order was crucial to finding others of their kind. And on each world they encountered, they employed techniques to ascertain whether a world-soul was present:
- First, the Pantheon would the world's raging elemental populations. A world-soul can become so vast that it draws in and consumes much of Spirit, a life-giving force that interconnects and binds all things in existence as one. Sacrificial magic was considered the greatest violation of life and the titans had hounds, instantly attuned to punish those who delved into such sorcery, police the use of arcane magic. Without this primordial force to create balance, elemental spirits can - or do - descend into chaos.
- They would then reshape the world, forming great mountains, fathomless seas, and roiling skies.
- Last, the titans would seed myriad life-forms across the newly ordered world. In doing so, the Pantheon hoped to call forth the world-soul and help bring it to maturity.
Most of the time, however, the worlds visited by the titans proved inert. The Pantheon vowed to maintain and protect all of these worlds, even those that did not contain a slumbering spirit. To do so, they empowered life-forms to uphold the integrity of their ordered worlds. The Pantheon also embedded colossal machines in the surface of the worlds that they had shaped. Through these devices, the titans could monitor their worlds-and purge them of life should their evolutionary paths succumb to disorder. Over the ages, the Pantheon discovered fewer and fewer world-souls. Yet they remained undaunted. They knew that the universe was vast beyond measure, and even after epochs of exploring the stars, they had only plumbed but a small corner of creation.
Denizens of the Cosmos
A keeper known as Loken called on his creator, Norgannon, to endow the proto-dragon Malygos with incredible arcane powers. Henceforth, Malygos would be known as the Spell-Weaver and his very scales radiated potent arcane energies. The limitless realms of magic and hidden arcane would be his to share, explore, and protect. To help the Dragons Aspects protect the world, keepers also sought to create a new species. To this end, the keepers magically altered hundreds of proto-dragon eggs. From them would emerge creatures born in the image of the Aspects. This new race, known as dragons, would form five distinct flights and one of them is known as the blue dragonflight.
The blues had gathered much arcane knowledge during Malygos's millennia as Aspect of Magic.
K'aresh was an arid planet, home to a thriving ecosystem and several sentient species before the arrival of Dimensius the All-Devouring. How the void lord found K'aresh is still hotly debated among the surviving ethereals, but the effects of his coming were unmistakable: he opened countless gateways into the void and the Twisting Nether around the planet, bathing K'aresh in arcane and dark energies. Using every scrap of its advanced technology, one of the mortal races hastily attempted to construct magical barriers around its cities, but it was only partially successful; although the dark energies were blocked, the unimpeded flood of arcane energy tore away the mortals' corporeal shells and infused their souls with enough energy so that they could subsist without a body… barely. Members of this race, now called ethereals, took to binding themselves with enchanted strips of cloth to provide their souls with enough structure to survive. This altered state proved to be a blessing in disguise, as their enhanced minds and magical abilities allowed the ethereals to fight Dimensius and his limited forces to a standstill. Over the years, however, Dimensius eventually grew powerful enough to summon armies of fellow void creatures, forcing the ethereals to flee into the Twisting Nether.
Sin'doreiBlood elves are beings who can sense the ebb and flow of arcane magic, and they often manipulate that magic to serve their needs.
"In eons past, the titans used the language of the arcane to weave whole worlds into existence..." - Aluneth
Servants of the undead tirelessly study the arcane arts in an effort to imbue weapons and armor with unholy power.
The Wretched are desperate and demented criminals who had siphoned arcane magic in amounts exorbitant enough to physically transform them into emaciated, reckless, black-hearted fiends who would gladly kill for a few mana crystals.
Professions of the Cosmos
Demon hunters, disciples of Illidan Stormrage, uphold a dark legacy, one that frightens their allies and enemies alike. The Illidari embrace fel and chaotic magics—energies that have long threatened the world of Azeroth—believing them necessary to challenge the Burning Legion. Wielding the powers of demons they’ve slain, they develop demonic features that incite revulsion and dread in fellow elves. There's a balance that must be struck when becoming a demon hunter. In order to maintain that balance, demon hunters must infuse themselves with opposite forces of nature. Fel energy is counteracted by arcane energy and they mark their bodies with arcane runes to keep their fel forces in check.
Mages of the arcane are diviners of secrets, balancing the ebb and flow of incredible mystic energies. Unparalleled skill is required to manipulate the volatile forces of the universe. These practitioners push their magical knowledge to its very limits—often to the brink of their own exhaustion, and at great risk to the world around them. Those who master this craft are capable of releasing a barrage of unrelenting power upon their enemies, drawing upon replenishing energies to maintain their assault for as long as the battle demands.
Warlocks are magical practitioners who seek to understand darker, fel-based magics, including destructive spells, as oppose to arcane-based magics.
The Schools of Arcane Magic
"If you are willing, the arcane will feed even your most twisted desires." - Flame Keeper Rizzli
AbjurationAbjuration is the study of protective magic and one of the most important schools to study. The most generalized abjuration spell is the mana shield, a spell that transmutes raw mana into a barrier that protects the caster from attacks. Properly executed, this spell can protect against even the most formidable of attacks - but the mana shield is very difficult for a novice to master. It often takes months of practice to even conjure a simple mana shield, and thus, more basic alternatives exist. A series of elemental armor spells were invented to aid in the unfortunate case that one be attacked. These spells require far less raw energy to cast then a mana shield and are more easily maintained over time, but lack the raw potency of the mana shield. Rather than stopping an attack completely, a frost armor spell might simply decrease the effectiveness of the assault. The more advanced armor spells grant other benefits - for example, the potent mage armor spell actually assists the caster in regaining magical power more easily.
Practitioners of the arcane arts are often ambitious, and we frequently find themselves in situations where magic may slip just slightly beyond their control. It is for this reason that the ward spells exist. Ward spells are quick, potent incantations to protect the caster against a form of elemental damage - damage which is often caused by the caster attempting one of the other schools of magic. This is why studying abjuration early is so imperative.
ConjurationConjuration is the study of summoning - both creatures and objects.
DivinationDivination is the school of magic dedicated to gathering information. Powerful divinations can allow one to see targets from a great distance, or even view what may normally be invisible. One of the most common uses of divination magic is scrying, which is the art of seeing something that may be far away - perhaps even on another plane of existence.
EnchantmentEnchantment is the process of imbuing an object - or person - with magical power. Some enchantments are temporary, while others can offer permanent benefits. Enchanting can be difficult to learn, but it is one of the most potentially lucrative forms of magic to study. Disenchanting is the process of dispelling or removing magic. The dispel magic spell is among the most important in a one's arsenal, as it can potentially reverse the catastrophic effects of a misfired spell. It is also possible to permanently disenchant a magical item. This produces a unique form of crystallized mana that can be used in the process of imbuing another item with magical abilities. While this can get expensive, it is often one of the best ways to study the enchanting process.
IllusionIllusion is the art of deceiving reality itself. The mists of illusion can make one invisible or inaudible to the world or twist the image of a location into something entirely different. Illusion can be used for disguise or manipulation, but beware, spells to counteract illusions exist in the divination school. Contrary to popular belief, illusions are far more than mere parlor tricks. The spell of invisibility is among the most integral in a battle mage's repertoire. Illusions can also be used to deceive opponents into thinking that one is elsewhere, or even trick enemies into fighting each other. This is no easy task, but the accomplished illusionist can turn allies into enemies - and his or her own enemies into allies.
Necromancy is the study of magic involving the dead. Necromantic magic has many functions beyond simply raising the dead. Masters of this tainted field of magic can conjure festering diseases, harness the shadows into bolts of incendiary energy, and chill the living with the power of death. Necromancy can also be used to reconstruct the flesh of undead creatures, allowing them to function again even after the foul monsters have been destroyed.
TransmutationThe ninth and final school of magic is transmutation. It is among the most popular and useful of all of the schools, allowing a one to manipulate time and space. Perhaps the most iconic Transmutation spell is Polymorph, which allows a mage to turn something - or someone - into something else. Fortunately, the effects are not permanent. The second most famous use for transmutation magic is teleportation. The most basic teleportation spell is blink, and it remains among the most useful. Blink can be used to quickly escape a foe - or save a mage who has accidentally fallen off a cliff. Spells that manipulate time also fall into this category. The ever-popular slow fall spell is an excellent alternative to falling to your death (and much more reliable than Blink at this function). More advanced practitioners of the arcane arts can also learn a spell that slows the movements of their enemies.
The RPGThis section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft RPG, and thus unlikely to be canon.
Arcane magic is the gift of titans to the world, a gift that comes with the highest price. Thousands of years ago, the titans placed the Well of Eternity in the center of Kalimdor to serve as a source of restoring, life-giving energy. They intended that the Well's energies would empower life of all forms to emerge on Kalimdor — plants, animals, monsters, races. After a time, the titans left Azeroth, leaving Kalimdor in the hands of the five dragon Aspects. Yet the Well of Eternity proved too great a lure to remain hidden for very long, particularly from Sargeras and the Burning Legion.
Children of the Stars
The Well was discovered by the Kaldorei, who were later known as night elves. Ever eager to uncover secrets hidden in dark places, the Kaldorei listened to the Well as it promised to give them great power. At the Well's behest, the Kaldorei learned spellspeech and used it to weave the first arcane spells. Within decades, Kaldorei mages had attained sufficient mastery over arcane magic that they built a great civilization. They founded the imperious city of Zin-Azshari, from which they extended their domination over most of Kalimdor.
Ultimately, the magic corrupted them. The Kaldorei had been a simple folk who gazed blissfully at the stars, enjoying the immortality given to them by the Well, but their haughtiness robbed them of that gift forever. Each succeeding generation became prouder and more decadent, and the lust for power only made the Kaldorei more of a beacon to the lords of the Twisting Nether. Finally, their greatest mage, Queen Azshara, cast a spell in the heart of the Well of Eternity itself — and a way was opened for evil to invade the world. Through Azshara's breach came the Burning Legion, the most terrifying warriors in existence. This fiendish horde ravaged Azeroth, pillaging entire kingdoms, destroying all that stood in its path, mocking anyone who begged it for mercy. When the Burning Legion ravaged the land, great heroes recognized that arcane magic posed a continuing threat to all living creatures, so they elected to destroy the Well of Eternity and put an end to arcane magic forever.
Unfortunately, among their number was one Illidan Stormrage, an arcane spell caster who dreaded the thought of losing his powers. Secretly he stole some of the well's water and used it to create a new Well of Eternity at Mount Hyjal, thus preserving the power of the arcane. This theft allowed future elven generations to follow in the footsteps of Illidan and Queen Azshara. These elves called themselves the Quel'dorei, "the high elves" (for they believed that their mastery of the arcane elevated them to higher status). They also taught the arcane arts to the newly discovered race of humans, who showed a natural aptitude.
These human mages, however, were even more reckless than the night elves had been. The high elf mages warned their human pupils that magic was addictive, but the acolytes dismissed any suggestion that the tragedies that had befallen the elves would also afflict them. The humans were no better at resisting corruption than the elves had been, and eventually the arrogance of wizards brought the Burning Legion to Azeroth once more. Once again, great acts of heroism were needed to spare Azeroth from destruction.
Elsewhere, on the orcish home world of Draenor, arcane sorceries corrupted the once noble race of orcs, transforming them into the Horde, a nigh invincible army. After ravaging their home world, the orcs came to Azeroth; and with their warlocks, they waged two great wars against the races of human, elf and dwarf. The orcs failed to seize control of Azeroth; during these wars, Draenor itself was utterly destroyed, and the orcs were forced to relocate to Azeroth.
In the wake of the Third War against the Scourge and Burning Legion, the orc Warchief Thrall has rejected arcane magic and embraced his race's traditional shamanistic ways. Yet orc warlocks still walk the world, and demons whisper in their ears each time they cast a spell. Neither human nor high elves have abandoned the pursuit of the arcane; if anything, the defeat of the Burning Legion at the Battle of Mount Hyjal has fed the arrogance of many spell casters, who believe the world is now protected from demonic influences and that arcane spell casters may practice their art in relative safety. Nothing sows the seeds of the fields of tragedy quite like arrogance.
The Four Laws
- Magic is powerful
- Magic in Azeroth is the difference between a slave and a master or a foot soldier and a king. Few races and nations can operate without powerful mages and warlocks. The use of arcane magic is growing; historically, each time this has happened before, a great disaster shortly followed. However, even though the history of the arcane is well known, mages and their patrons invariably come to the same, self-serving conclusion: it won't happen to them.
- Magic is corrupting
- Magic corrupts the soul; if the humblest person in Azeroth became a practitioner of the arcane, by the time the practitioner reached the higher levels in their art, all traces of her humble roots would be lost. Magic breeds pride and arrogance. Magic corrupts the body; it ages the caster before their time and hastens the blight that the world inflicts on things fair and beautiful. Those who claim that only necromancy and fel magic have a destructive influence are fooling themselves.
- Magic is addictive
- When one feels the power of an arcane spell coursing through one's body as it's being cast, resisting the urge to cast it again is difficult. Frequent use leads to a desire for more and, eventually, even to a desire to delve into fel magic.
- Magic attracts the Twisting Nether like a fly to honey
- The Burning Legion has invaded Azeroth three times, drawn by the power of the Well of Eternity and those who employ it. Magic is a literal gateway drug that allows dark titans such as Sargeras to bring evil influences to the world. Those who employ arcane magic must deal with demons and other servants of the Twisting Nether.
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, pg. 150 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft > Legion Class Preview Series: Mage
- ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter
- ^ War Crimes, pg. 359 on iBooks
- ^ Paragons, pg. 584 on iBooks
- ^ Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, pg. 371 on iBooks
- ^ Warcraft II manual: The Rise of the Shadow Council - We began training young Warlocks in the arcane mysteries of life and death.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 22 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 30-31 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 39 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 31-32 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 17-18 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 51 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 34 on iBooks
- ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter
- ^ Tides of War, pg. 318 on iBooks
- ^ Tides of War, pg. 321 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 88-89 on iBooks
- ^ Dawn of the Aspects: Part I, pg. 32 on iBooks
- ^ Ask Creative Development - Ethereals
- ^ Tyrus Sheynathren
- ^ Warcraft III manual
- ^ Paragons, pg. 686 on iBooks
- ^ World of Warcraft > Game Guide > Classes > Demon Hunter
- ^ World of Warcraft > Legion Class Preview Series: Mage
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide pg. 21
- ^ WoW TCG Card: Twisted Arcana
- ^ a b The Schools of Arcane Magic - Abjuration
- ^ The Schools of Arcane Magic - Divination
- ^ The Schools of Arcane Magic - Enchantment
- ^ The Schools of Arcane Magic - Illusion
- ^ The Schools of Arcane Magic - Necromancy
- ^ The Schools of Arcane Magic - Transmutation
- ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 14-15
- ^ Dark Factions, pg. 118
- ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 15