Encyclopaedia Arcana #34: Water Magic

One of the more common elemental types, water magic gives control over liquid and its associated qualities.  Water mages are often thought of as passive and reactive compared to other elementalists, but their magic is well-suited for combat and water battle-mages are common.

Under the Sea

The two most basic abilities water mages develop are water control and water breathing.  The two combine to make water mages the best swimmers in the world by a long way – an experienced water mage can break most Olympic swimming records with ease and stay underwater for hours or days at a time.  More experienced water mages learn to develop immunity to the cold and pressure of the ocean’s depths, allowing them to go deeper.  In fact, many mages get so comfortable underwater that they end up staying there, spending much of their lives beneath the waves.

The abilities of water mages also overlap to a limited degree with weather and ice magic.  Although both areas are strictly speaking considered their own magic type, it’s common for water mages to have some degree of talent for either or both.  In the case of weather effects, the most natural starting point is mist and fog, and water mages have a wide variety of spells that revolve around creating or controlling them.

Wearing Away

Water mages are well served when it comes to combat spells.  Like most elemental mages they can effectively protect themselves with bubble-like shields, but relatively few are aware of how destructive water can be.  Water is a powerful solvent, and given enough time it can wear down anything.  In the same way that the sea can erode away rock or metal, a water mage can dissolve away solid substances.  At higher intensities this can produce the much-feared disintegration effects that water battle-mages are famous for:  a veteran water-mage can literally reduce an opponent to dust.

Water mages with less murderous tendencies prefer spells that harness the effects of water pressure, striking like a high-pressure jet and knocking a target off their feet.  In addition to erosion, water mages can harness corrosion as well, creating acidic or alkaline solutions that eat away solid objects.

Going with the Flow

Socially, water mages tend to fit in easily.  They have a reputation for being agreeable and attractive, if not outright seductive – if a character’s presented as an object of desire in mage stories, then if they’re not an enchantress there’s a good chance they’ll be a water mage.  Water mages are rarely cast as the heroes, however:  they tend to be seen as fundamentally reactive, rather than agents of change.

The reputation does have some element of truth, though much of it may be a reflection not on water mages’ characters but on their capabilities.  Water magic is an all-rounder:  it’s not as good at destroying things as fire and not as good at protecting its caster as earth and not as good at moving around as air, but it’s reasonably good at doing all of those things and a water mage is a useful ally in almost any situation.  While all mages are specialists at heart, water mages are probably as close to generalists as elemental mages get.  This makes it easy for water mages to blend in with the crowd, but does mean they tend to have less motivation to dramatically change things.

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