Our reality is one thing, matters don’t have to be the same in a different existence.
The deal is there can be other realities besides our own. At least in our imaginations. In addition, they can be as real as ours, in our imaginations — my emphasis. This means that whatever we imagine can be as real as we need it to be in our imaginations. Which means things can work as you need them to in your imaginary world.
What it comes down to is, in a fantasy world as in Ars Magica and Mythus something like magick can and does work. In either case we’re not talking about our existence, but rather about worlds which work differently to some degrees than ours’ does. In either case something we could call magick works. Something that produces actually results and not just something we need to lie about in a vain attempt to fool ourselves.
The Thing Is
While both have magick they don’t both handle it the same way. In part this is due to their respective mechanics, but it is also due to just how developed the science has become in their respective worlds.
That’s right, I said science. Science is about understanding, in any world where a thing can work it can be understood. At least we can pretend that we understand it, and when you get right down to it we don’t really understand what’s going on in our reality, we just like to think we do. So on Ærth and Mythic Earth magick works, so we can invent reasons as to why it does. Do they work? Well enough for academic purposes.
The difference between the two lies in how old the science is in the respective settings. In Mythic Earth it got its start sometime in the 8th century AD. It’s really only been a science for about 4 centuries, so it really hasn’t had much to be developed as a science.
On Ærth magick has been a science — at least treated as a science — for a few thousand years. That means they’ve gotten more work done.
One of the biggest differences lies in their respective cosmologies. On Ærth it’s much busier; you have the mundane, the supernatural, and the entital. Each of these is further subdivided. On Mythic Earth is not so well developed.
Where magick itself is concerned on Ærth a caster can call upon other planes. On Mythic Earth the only plane available to a caster is the mundane. Only those with a connection with the Divine can access any of the outer planes, and that gives them a substantial advantage. You get right down to it, as powerful as a Mythic Europe Magus can be, he’s still very much a babe just starting to toddle about on wobbly pins.
It all comes down to just what each party has learned about their respective existences. In ArM they really haven’t learned all that much. Their model of reality is still undeveloped. In Mythus it’s quite a bit better developed, largely because they’ve had the time. Or, it could be that the model in Ars Magica is more limited because it is, and their understanding is actually more accurate than that of the mages in Mythus.
Though if the scientists—which is what they are—of either world follow the pattern of progress our scientists follow, those of Mythic Earth will find ways to complicate their understanding of things, while those of Ærth will find reasons to simplify since their understanding has gotten just a tad too complex as far as I’m concerned.
When you get right down to it, how the respective guides handle magick depends a lot on how we handle such things in our reality. We like to undertand. Or at least to think we understand. And we insist on claiming we understand when we really don’t. Not to anything like we think we do. And since ArM and Mythus are really dealing with different worlds, how reality actually works in the two need not be exactly the same.
In the Future
That depends. The magick of Mythic Earth may become more like that of Ærth, or it may become something quite different. That depends on how the people behind Ars Magica decide to take it, and that is entirely their choice. Though it would be interesting to see the magick in the one RPG take a sort of convergent development with the magik in the other.
Though I do have to ask a question: How do you see your favorite fantasy RPG handling magick?