Common Perceptions of Magic
How an individual views magic or accepts its presence depends on a number of factors, including that individual’s racial and cultural beliefs, level of education, and previous exposure to magic. As a result, there exists a wide spectrum of views towards magic across Stormfell. Some people absolutely love all things magical, while others feel nothing but terror at anything hinting of magic. What follows is a brief and general overview of how different groups feel about magic and those using such magic.
Dragonborn: The “children of dragons” display a strange blending of attitudes towards magic. Given their draconic heritage, magic is part of everyday life for all dragonborn. Their blood contains the essence of dragon magic, and this magic grants dragonborn a number of impressive abilities, including dragonbreath such as fire or ice. When it comes to other forms of magic, however, dragonborn become less comfortable or tolerant. Most dragonborn readily accept obvious divine or primal magic. Arcane magic, however, is often another matter.
Although dragonborn are not particularly superstitious with regards to arcane magic, they do consider it unpredictable, unreliable, and they frequently hold similar reservations towards arcane practitioners. A cleric or paladin answers to his deity, while a druid or shaman answers both to his tribe and the spirits of nature. A wizard or sorcerer, on the other hand, answers to no one. Any individual without loyalty or duty to a higher authority is highly suspect in the eyes of dragonborn. Overall, dragonborn take a cautious attitude towards arcane practitioners. Their attitudes towards such individuals have more to do with pragmatism than superstitious fear or dread.
Dragons: In many ways, dragons epitomize the forces of magic. Magic enables dragons to breathe devastating energies, fly at tremendous speeds, and influence enemies and allies alike at great distances. Most dragons spend their entire lives studying magic, collecting magic items, and learning about all types of magic in the world. From the moment it is born to its last breath, a dragon lives and breathes magic. According to legend, the god Io formed dragons out of magic. As expected, dragons are comfortable around magic and feel no superstitious fear at its appearance. Any caution a dragon demonstrates towards magic relates entirely to wise caution and self-defense.
Dwarves: Dwarves are, in some ways, as steeped in magic as dragons. The god Moradin formed dwarves from the stone and the earth, and imbued his creations with life-giving magic. As a result, dwarves feel a strong affinity towards primal magic, and divine magic. These types of magic are familiar forces to dwarves on an instinctual level. Clerics and paladins are among the most revered of dwarven professions.
When it comes to arcane or other types of magic, dwarves feel decidedly less comfortable. They share many of the same attitudes as dragonborn when it comes to arcane magic: how can you truly trust someone without duty or loyalty to a greater authority? Dwarves feel natural caution in the company of wizards. When it comes to warlocks and sorcerers, dwarves can feel downright paranoid. After all, warlocks and sorcerers cast spells not because of training and discipline, but for other less understandable reasons. Dwarves actually hold an impressive number of superstitious beliefs with regards to arcane magic and arcane practitioners; many of these superstitions are thinly veiled warnings against dealing with wizards or their ilk.
Dwarves demonstrate somewhat more tolerance with arcane magic when it involves permanent items or construction. Dwarven artificers and enginseers are highly respected professionals, and dwarves appreciate the value of a magically enhanced building or magical weapon or tool.
Ecclesiastic Orders: The attitudes towards magic vary from one religion to the next. Naturally, all of the various denominations fully accept divine magic as a vital part of life. Every religion, with the exception of Ioun, Numira, and Vecna, holds to the belief that divine magic is inherently superior to arcane.
When it comes to attitudes and opinions about other forms of magic, the differences depend on the denomination. The Church of Ioun, for example, views all magic as valuable and useful; there is no such thing as “evil” magic (although the Blight is viewed as too dangerous for mortal use). Likewise, the followers of Vecna consider arcane magic just as valuable (and sometimes more) as divine magic. On the other hand, the disciples of Kord, for example, do not trust arcane magic or its practitioners.
The majority of the various religions believe that magic, regardless of its form or source, should remain the purview of a select few individuals. Magic is powerful and, to the inexperienced, potentially dangerous. Most faiths strongly believe in limiting access to and use of magic.
Eladrin: The eladrin have long been comfortable with arcane magic, and eladrin spellcasters are among the most experienced and learned. The eladrin are likewise comfortable in the presence of other forms of magic, especially primal and divine.
Elves: All elves hold a close bond with the primal forces of the natural world. An elf’s soul includes a primal essence. As a result, elves in general are comfortable around primal magic, and they see it in use often. In regards to arcane magic, elves do not trust it and often consider its practitioners as worthy of suspicion and caution. Although elves rarely believe in superstitions regarding arcane magic, they rarely feel comfortable about its use.
Gnomes: No other race demonstrates the level of curiosity towards magic – all kinds of magic – that the gnomes reveal. One of the most prevalent gnomish traits, love of learning, applies equally to all things magical. When their civilization rose to inspired heights, gnome spellcasters pushed the boundaries of magic in every way possible. Gnome artificers crafted impressive magic items, gnome alchemists discovered potent elixirs, and gnome wizards researched all manner of new spells. Gnomes used magic in constructing their buildings and creating their everyday tools. The notion of feeling fear towards magic was, to most gnomes, utterly ridiculous.
For gnomes as a race, everything has changed in a drastically short period of time. At some point in recent history, some untold event has afflicted gnomes in cruel and unexpected ways. No one seems to know what happened or why, but now there exists growing evidence of a dark power or entity. This power seems intent on eradicating the gnome race from existence, but at an almost leisurely pace. Already this insidious curse has devastated the once impressive gnome cities and settlements. Some of the race’s greatest scholars and magic practitioners have vanished, died, or fallen to insanity over the past few decades.
For gnomes, magic is no longer a comfortable or familiar friend. Magic, especially arcane magic has seemingly turned hostile to them in subtle ways. Arcane magic has, for gnomes at least, become unpredictable and capricious in nature. Whatever curse or doom has befallen gnomes has affected their relationship with arcane magic. As a result, a growing number of superstitions have arisen amongst gnomes. Even the boldest gnome magic-user now must feel uncertainty and suspicion every time he casts a spell or ritual.
Goblinoids: Much like orcs, goblins and their cousins are among the most superstitious of creatures. They distrust magic in all its forms, although most goblin tribes enjoy the services of a shaman, witch doctor, or similar primal practitioner.
Of note, hobgoblins seem far less superstitious towards or fearful of magic. These creatures may not necessarily understand magic better than goblins, but they are more likely to view magic as a tool rather than an inexplicable and random force.
Halflings: Overall, halflings do not seem too concerned with or fearful towards magic. Although halflings share a number of superstitions regarding magic, they rarely seem concerned by these beliefs. Halflings seem driven to test boundaries and push the rules, perhaps to see how far they can reach. Although halflings do not possess any special innate magical talents, they nonetheless reveal a hint of something magic in their nature. Some races refer to this ineffable quality as “luck” or “good fortune,” but to halflings it simply seems like second nature.
Nobility: Like many other things in life, most nobles approach magic from a pragmatic point of view. In regards to magic, a noble is likely to seek the means to control magic and its practitioners one way or another. Failing control, a noble wants to know how best to protect his interests from magic. Nobles see magic, for the most part, as another tool to be manipulated, co-opted, and exploited. At the same time, nobles understand how dangerous and potentially unpredictable magic and magic-users can be. If a peasant acquires a longbow and a suit of armor, such a threat is easily contained. An out of control warlock or sorcerer, on the other hand, is a dangerous and unstable element.
With their wealth and influence, nobles are amongst the most likely individuals to hire spellcasters or keep them on retainer. Most noble families enjoy the services of a cleric or healer, and many of the more powerful nobles keep a wizard on staff for advice and emergencies. In a noble’s view, if you can’t control the magic, then try to control the practitioner.
Orcs: Few creatures are as superstitious as the average orc. Orcs look at their world as a hostile, savage, and dangerous place filled with things ready to kill them, eat them, or shred their souls (or all three at once). They despise elven magic, dwarven magic, and just about every other kind of magic that isn’t on their side.
Orcs as a race are not known for their logical thinking or clear reasoning skills. When an orc looks at the world around him, he primarily relies on primitive beliefs and superstitions to explain things. As a result, almost everything seems tainted by magic in one way or another, even natural events such as thunderstorms or rain showers.
Despite their superstitions, orcs readily appreciate the power of a druid or shaman in their midst. Most orc tribes possess at least one primal magician. The other orcs hold these individuals in high esteem and view them as dangerous, powerful, and a touch insane.
Peasantry: For the most part, magic is magic. Most peasants make no distinction between arcane magic or primal. In the common view, all such magic is dangerous and unpredictable. Of note, peasants typically do not view divine magic as magic at all; instead, any magic a cleric performs is simply a miracle from the gods. Peasants are among the most superstitious of all racial or cultural groups when it comes to magic. They do not trust it and they do not trust its practitioners (except clerics, as mentioned). The peasantry has a vast number of superstitions related to magic and those foolish enough to use it or trust in it.
Despite the attitudes of the typical peasant towards magic, the days of hunting down suspected wizards or witches have past (for the most part). Although it would be a mistake to consider this a sign of increased tolerance, most peasants no longer immediately demand the pyre for anyone remotely suspected of magic use.
Tieflings: Magic dwells within the blood and bones of every tiefling. Their entire race exists, at least in part, due to magic. Although tieflings hold on to a few superstitious beliefs regarding magic, most of their race feels no trepidation about using magic or witnessing its effects. Tieflings are as comfortable around arcane magic as any eladrin, perhaps more so.
At the same time, tieflings seem to feel less comfort in the presence of divine magic. Many tieflings tend to get more superstitious around clerics, paladins, or anything connected to the divine. Deep down, many tieflings feel that the gods have either abandoned their race, or are continually judging them for the choices their ancestors made in the distant past. Whenever anyone starts using divine magic, nearby tieflings have a tendency to slip away whenever possible.