Zombies in History
Magic in the World
Magic is not and never has been uncommon. Every people from regimented, martial Spartans to wild merry Celts, from ascetic Persian scholars contemplating the heavens from a lonely tower in the desert to fur-clad Norsemen drinking mead from horns and rolling on the floor in thatched huts, have some sort of magic. Wizardry, sorcery, mysticism, druidism and clerical magic all have their places.
All cultures have gods, so nearly all cultures have clerics. Those that don’t are Animist, and thus have druidic magic instead of clerical magic. The one exception is the remnants of the Byzantine Empire, which is nominally Christian. However, because prayers to God are offered additionally to the figure of the Divine Emperor, Byzantium is really Christian in name only, and thus state clerics do not receive spells or powers from God. Instead, their magic is derived from mysticism. Clerical magic can be state-sponsored or church-sponsored. It is usually learned in a group setting, though students will have a private mentor in regions not accepting their faith.
Druidic magic is all but extinct throughout the civilized world, though it exists in Ireland, eastern Europe and northern Europe. Most tribal or nomadic societies make great use of druidic magic. It is also found in Wales, Scotland and, much more rarely, in France and Germany.
Mystics, described in the Dragonlance campaign setting, appear rarely in urban societies and commonly in tribal or nomadic ones. Mystics tend to be either self-educated or with a single mentor, except in the Byzantine Empire, where they have replaced clerics. There is no special stigma attached to mystics.
Sorcerers, like mystics, appear rarely in urbanized societies but are more common in tribal and nomadic ones. They replace wizards in illiterate areas. They tend to be either self-taught or mentored by single individuals. Sorcerers are contemptuous of wizards, who lock themselves off from power. The orders, however, rarely come into conflict.
Wizardry is the most common form of magic in the world. Nearly all literate cultures cultivate wizards, training them in large academies. Magic is mainly used for peaceful purposes, including commerce, crafting, transportation and diplomacy. In Persia, Kiev, Novgorod, Scotland, Wales, the Holy Roman Empire and Scandanavia, combative and non-combative magics are taught together. However, throughout the rest of the world, wizardry is strictly divided between utilitarian and combative. Utilitarian magic is taught in government-sponsored academies, and forms the bulk of magic use in the world. Combative magic is taught as a part of regular army training, and dedicated warmages are commonly found in professional standing armies and mercenary forces.
Psions exist, but their presence is not tolerated. Psionics is illegal and punishable with imprisonment and death throughout the world, though enclaves of psions exist deep in the wilderness. As a general rule of thumb, if you are a psion, specifically a firestarter, pyrokineticist, or use any kind of fire in your psionic trickery, the entire world stops what they are doing, and rest at nothing to hunt you down. We’re not kidding. Play a psionic, and you’re signing your own death warrant.