Encyclopaedia Arcana #35: Air Magic

Air is the element of movement and freedom, and most of its effects revolve around motion in some way.  Air mages are good at moving quickly and avoiding danger, but tend to have less brute destructive power than other elementalists.

Up and Away

The signature ability of air mages is flight, and despite all the other things they can do it’s their ability to fly that they’re most famous for.  Although there are several methods of getting it to work, the “standard” flight spell that’s become the preferred one over the centuries works in two ways:  it channels air magic into the caster’s body to reduce their effective weight, and combines that with manipulation of air currents to allow them to move in different directions.  At lower levels this is only enough to soften a fall, but as air mages develop their skill they learn to levitate themselves and eventually fly freely in all three dimensions.

Although flight is one of the more difficult spells to effectively use, nearly all air mages end up learning it.  There seems to be something about it that appeals strongly to their psychological makeup – if they didn’t want to fly, they wouldn’t have become air mages in the first place.  Air mages who prefer a slightly less obvious method of getting around learn to use their magic to enhance their ability to jump and run, boosting their natural capabilities rather than supplanting them.

Something In The Air

Air mages have a unique advantage over other elementalists in that they get to be immersed in their preferred element 99% of the time.  Most people don’t spend that much time swimming in water, only a certain fraction of the population have jobs that keep them underground or in close contact with the earth, and for the vast majority of humanity being engulfed in fire is a sign that things have gone really badly wrong – but being surrounded by air is so normal that most people never even think about it.

As a result, air mages are never short of something to affect, and this gives air magic enormous utility.  Air mages can solidify or ‘harden’ air to create objects out of nothingness:  swords, shields, hammers, ladders, bridges, levers, and just about anything else they can think up.  They can also manipulate the makeup of air to increase or decrease oxygen concentrations or even create pockets of vacuum.  Finally, they can use air directly as a force, lifting or buffeting items or creating whirlwind effects.  Although air magic can be destructive, it tends to lag a little behind the other elements when it comes to attack spells:  air isn’t really very well-suited to direct attacks and most air mages who go in for combat rely on wielded weapons and projectiles of hardened air rather than wind blasts.

Drifting on the Wind

Air mages tend to be whimsical and independent.  Freedom is at the centre of their system of values, and the most reliable way to make an air mage really angry is to try to confine or imprison them somehow.  On the other hand, as long as their independence is respected, air mages tend to be relatively easy to get along with:  in the same way that they prefer to have some distance from others, they don’t ask or expect much in return.  Air-users often have a creative streak, and it’s very common for air adepts and mages to be artists of some kind.

Socially, air mages tend to never quite fit in.  They’re welcome in larger society, yet never quite at home there:  they tend to have just slightly too much of an inclination towards remaining independent and detached.  They’re often more widely-travelled and experienced than their compatriots, but they rarely commit themselves, and on some level they always seem to be outsiders.

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One Response to Encyclopaedia Arcana #35: Air Magic

  1. Ilkarelven says:

    Hi Benedict, I was hooked since i read Fated. your style is special coz it’s about modern fantasy and few manage to impress me. Normally i also prefer ancient medieval fantasies. I like Luna and Alex :DD I support new people as i’m a writer trying to get published too.
    :))