Elven High Magic (Arselu'Tel'Quess in elven or the Great Art of the People) is the term used to describe one of the most powerful forms of magic practiced in Faerûn. Casters of this magic are called Selu'taar, also known as the "Art's Disciples" or simply as "High Mages". High Magic spells are powerful enough to affect deities or to create world-changing spell effects. Non-elves cannot cast High Magic as they are simply unable to wield such power without being consumed by it, and in truth even most elves are found lacking in the necessary finesse and skill.[1]

All High Magic spells are rituals, and they frequently require collaboration of more than one High Mage.[1] In addition, the necessary material components and timing of High Magic can be very specific. For example, in 1375 DR a priest of Vhaeraun used a High Magic spell to open the realm of Eilistraee to Vhaeraun, in order that he might slay her. The components for this mighty ritual included a certain specific configuration of heavenly bodies existing in the skies of Faerûn.[2]

Another example of High Magic was used by Q'arlynd Melarn to wipe the name of Kiaransalee from the minds of her worshipers, thus eliminating her mortal followers. Due to the edict of Ao, any deity without mortal worship can no longer exist. Kiaransalee ceased to exist in the realm of Toril.[3]

It was also High Magic which destroyed the ancient elven realm Tintageer and also what was used to open the gate between Faerie and Abeir-Toril to help the survivors escape. The caster of the spell to open the gate was also consumed by the power of her spell.[4]

During the Crown Wars High Mages of Aryvandaar caused the so called Dark Disaster and destroyed the realm Miyeritar. Another example of elven High Magic of this period was cast by the elves with the help of the Seldarine to punish the dark elves. They were turned into the drow and after that their descent began.[5]

Language[edit | edit source]

Elven High Magic is written in the Seldruin language, which uses the Hamarfae alphabet.[6]

Types of ritual[edit | edit source]

High Magic rituals are roughly divided into three different types.[7]

Rituals of Solitude[edit | edit source]

Rituals of Solitude are the lowest-level, touching the direct source of magic the least, and they can be cast by a solitary high mage. Despite their name, many of these ritual spell effects can involve bolstering the morale of entire armies of elves or of demoralizing their foe's forces. [7]

Rituals of Complement[edit | edit source]

Rituals of Complement require three high mages working in tandem, and they require more time and are more complex. Effects include creating permanent gates, the creation of many magic items at once, or of creating a phantasmal illusion capable of hiding an entire elven homeland. [7]

Rituals of Myriad[edit | edit source]

Rituals of Myriad are the most powerful form of High Magic and require at least five high mages, though some of these rituals require many more participants. Examples of Rituals of Myriad include the creation of the Mythals of elven cities.[7]

High Magic made easy[edit | edit source]

Elven High Magic had a number of ways to make its casting easier. For example, when one wanted to create a mythal, dying as part of the casting was an easy and reliable way to fill the gap between "skill held by the caster" and "skill required by the spell". It was considered one of the most honourable ways to die in elven culture, which was the reason why many elven high mages died casting a spell when they reached a level of skill which was high enough for their death to cover their lack thereof.[8]

Probably the best example of substituting lack of resources were the vhaeraunites who tried to open a gate between Ellaniath, Vhaeraun’s realm, to Arvandor. What they needed was manpower, presumed to be a 3-4 digit number, while they were a 4-headed group[9] and the willingness to die for the casting, they preferred to live.[10]

Their way to cover their lack of manpower was to tap the power of an earth node that happened to be in a darkstone cavern,[9] it reduced the required number of casters to three. Their way to counter the demand for their lives was to use a spell called soultheft. As the name implies, each of them stole a soul and used its energy as magical fuel for the magic, thus keeping their own lives safe.[10]

Unwanted Effects of High Magic[edit | edit source]

Elves occasionally used their high magic in quite irresponsible ways.

The biggest effect on the world was probably done by the First Sundering, the creation of Evermeet.[11] The elves during the First Flowering cast the spell and miscalculated. Not only did all the casters barring the focus die,[12] they only succeeded because their deities intervened and even then was the continent sundered with corresponding casualties.[13][14]

Another effect was the result of Cormanthor’s search for planar lore. The elves created a gate to the Far Realm with elven high magic ,[15] not only did they allow a monstrosity like Father Llymic come through, they also created a permanent link to the Far Realm,[16] but they managed to close the gate.[15]

By the 14th century DR, elven high magic was a dying craft. The high mages grew reluctant to teach new ones, due to the elves’ potential for reckless and irresponsible use. This made it likely for the craft to die out in a single generation.[17]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  2. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  3. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  4. Elaine Cunningham (1999). Evermeet: Island of Elves. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 93–96. ISBN 0-7869-1354-1.
  5. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  6. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 126. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  8. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 47. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 79. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 78. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  11. Warning: edition not specified for Evermeet: Island of Elves
  12. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), pp. 160–161. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  13. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 162. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  14. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Schwalb, Robert J. (December 2007). Elder Evils. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7869-4733-1.
  16. Schwalb, Robert J. (December 2007). Elder Evils. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 978-0-7869-4733-1.
  17. Sean K. Reynolds, Duane Maxwell, Angel McCoy (August 2001). Magic of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-1964-7.

Literature[edit | edit source]

2. Edition:

3. Edition:


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.