Encyclopaedia Arcana #27: Charm Magic

Charm magic, otherwise known as emotion magic, is the domain of feeling, giving its users the power to sense and control the emotions of others.  Depending on whether they’re male or female, a charm mage is usually called an enchanter or an enchantress.  It’s traditionally considered one of the more feminine types of magic, but this is a little inaccurate – there’s no shortage of male enchanters, they just get less attention.

Swaying the Crowd

An enchantress usually gets her start learning to read emotions.  They can sense someone’s general emotional state just by being near them – whether they’re happy, sad, angry, afraid, or anything else.  With practice they learn to read emotions more precisely, deciphering the different layers and combinations of feelings in a persons mind.  They can’t actually read someone’s thoughts or tell why they have the feelings they do, but feelings and thoughts are closely connected and a skilled enchantress can figure out what someone is thinking with a high degree of accuracy.

Once they’ve mastered reading emotions, charm mages learn to affect them, and the most common (and the most iconic) spell they learn is the ability to charm.  An enchantress can shift the attitude of a person, making them act towards her as they would a dear friend or a lover.  Unless given a reason to suspect otherwise, the target usually doesn’t realise they’ve been charmed – they know they like the mage, but they don’t know why.  An enchantress can also play on a target’s emotions in other ways, giving them empathic suggestions to do or refrain from something and generally manipulating them to her wishes.

For obvious reasons, other mages have a problem with this (at least when it’s targeted at them).

Paranoia Fuel

The major advantage charm mages have over more direct magic-users is subtlety.  Charm magic is incredibly difficult to detect, to the point of being practically invisible – there’s almost no way to know if an enchantress is using her magic or not.  Targets can figure out if they’re being charmed by looking to see if their emotions have changed, but the problem is that emotions change all the time anyway.  It’s very, very hard to figure out whether your feelings toward a charm mage are natural or artificial.

The result of this is that mages tend to be really paranoid when dealing with enchantresses.  They’re afraid that they’ll be charmed or manipulated without knowing it, and so limit their dealings with them as far as possible.  Ironically, this means an enchantress usually gets suspected of manipulating emotions even when she isn’t doing it at all – since there’s no way to know if an enchantress is using her abilities, there’s also no way to know if she isn’t.

Light and Dark

Charm mages are one of the two types of mages that dominate Light Council politics.  The abilities of a charm mage give them an enormous advantage in negotiations and political dealings, and their ability to read emotions lets them pick up on the subtleties of an interaction faster than any normal person could.  It also helps that charm mages tend to be extroverted and social – even without their magic, they’re good at making others like them.

Charm mages in Dark society do less well.  While a Dark enchantress has even less limits on her freedom of action than a Light one, the major weakness of charm magic is that it’s not much good when it comes to brute force.  Dark mages don’t like being enchanted any more than Light ones do, but unlike Light mages their solution to the problem tends to be to apply immediate violence to the enchantress in question.  Charm mages who try to bring a Dark mage under their control often pay for it with their lives.

As a result of this charm mages have a definite bias towards the Light faction rather than the Dark, and those who aren’t Light are usually independent.  It’s less about ethics and more about convenience – the Light style of solving problems is much more appealing to most charm mages than the Dark one, and the social circuit of Light politics is a perfect home for an enchantress to dwell in.

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