The universe is comprised of eight aspects, the basic building blocks used to construct not just life, but all matter and energy. These aspects can be used alone, or in tandem, to accomplish nearly anything. Journeying to a catalyst can allow a mage to unlock an aspect of magic, and many spend their lives trying to master all eight.
The aspects are divided into two types, realms and elements. The realms include Life, Void, Dream, and Spirit. The elements include fire, air, earth, and water. Adjacent aspects may be used to unlock a greater path (see below).
Even the simplest spells require long study to master. Tech Mages bypass this need by using technology to cast spells. A spellrifle allows a void mage to cast a void bolt, or a fire mage to cast a flame bolt. Spellarmor may allow a dream mage to turn invisible, or an air mage to fly.
True mages may use standard spellarmor or spellweapons, but may also cast spells using their own power and knowledge. These spells are limited to the aspects known by the true mage, and there is a broad range of respective power amongst true mages. A mage with a single aspect might have two or three niche spells, whereas a more experienced mage might have five or six aspects and two dozen spells.
The real jump in power comes from the greater paths listed below. A true mage with one or more greater paths has a massive advantage over an aspected mage.
Some mages value martial prowess as much or more than magical prowess. They master the ability to channel potent magic through their weapon of choice. They are devastating on the field of battle, cutting down foes with a mix of speed and sorcery. War Mages utilize the best tech, bringing their own arsenal of spells to back it up.
Because they divide their focus, war mages rarely know as many spells as a true mage, and often cast fewer spells before growing too exhausted to cast.
Air– this aspect is the most ephemeral and unpredictable of the eight. It allows the caster to command the winds, summon bolts of lightning and even to fly. Air is the elemental component of both Illusion and Enchanting, two of the most potent and underestimated Greater Paths.
Earth– this aspect is the most unyielding and solid of the eight. It allows the caster to command not only stone, mud and earth, but also grants dominion over all plants. Earth is the elemental component of both Binding and Summoning, two very powerful Greater Paths.
Fire– fire is the most volatile and destructive of the eight aspects. It allows the caster to control flame, harnessing it provide warmth or destroy foes. Fire is the elemental component of both Destruction and Divination, two highly coveted Greater Paths.
Water– this aspect is fluid and ever changing. It allows the caster to control water or ice. Water is the elemental component of both Protection and nature, two of the most highly revered Greater Paths.
Dream– this aspect is ephemeral and ever changing. It allows the caster to put others to sleep, manipulate dreams and to use glamours to charm others. Dream is the realm component of both Illusion and Divination, two of the most utilitarian Greater Paths.
Life– this aspect is the most tightly bound with all living things. It allows the caster to create light, cure poisons and diseases and to heal the injured. It is the realm component of both enchanting and nature, the two most highly sough paths by governments throughout the Shayan Confederacy.
Spirit– this aspect is tied to the Spirit Realm. It allows the caster to communicate with the dead and to inflict horrible suffering on the souls of others. It is the realm component of both Binding and Protection, giving it enormous utility.
Void– this aspect is tied to the Endless Void, which encompasses the Great Cycle itself. It allows the caster to unmake objects, both living and dead. It also grants the caster the power to places curses. Void is the realm component of both Summoning and Destruction, and is universally feared. It also allows gravity magic, making it necessary to every space faring race.