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|“||You think those clothes o'metal will protect you from mages? Ha! Armor won't save you.||”|
— Khadein local
Magic (Japanese: 魔法 or 魔道 magic) is an important world element in the Fire Emblem series.
There are many classes that use magic instead of physical weapons, the most basic of which is the mage, appearing in every game except Radiant Dawn. Magic in the Fire Emblem series generally falls into one of three categories: anima, light and dark. These three categories form a trinity of magic, much like the Weapon Triangle, in which anima beats light, light beats dark and dark beats anima. Within the anima category lies another trinity of magic formed by fire, thunder and wind, where fire beats wind, wind beats thunder and thunder beats fire.
In general magic is learned and honed in academies by students or in places of worship by the clergy. With only two continental exceptions—Valentia and Fódlan—practitioners of magic must use tools to channel magic, such as scrolls, tomes, or staves. A tool is not the only required thing, however, each spell has its own set of incantations and activation words used to perform the spell. Technically speaking, a mage does not need to know how to read to use spells and tomes, though it is obviously of great benefit to learning of magic to be literate.
The Manakete and White Sage Gotoh established a magic academy in Khadein hundreds of years before the War of Shadows, and showed humans how to harness the power of magic with tomes and staves by sealing the power of nature within them; the creation of powerful magic such as Aura requires the power of the Binding Shield's orbs. However, the people misused magic for war and sold it to the public, disappointing Gotoh, who vanished. Only bishops can wield both tomes and staves, and they can only wield weak magic such as fire or heal. Powerful magic like Aura can be wielded only by a limited few.
Unlike Archanea the precise history and origins of magical practice on Valentia is unknown, but it clearly differs from Archanea, and even between magic practiced in Zofia versus magic practiced in Rigel. It is possible that Duma and Mila introduced magic to the humans in their respective regions. Magic practiced in Zofia appears to be fairly similar to Archanean magic, featuring basic spells like fire and thunder. Rigelian magic differs from its Zofian relatives in general theme, featuring ominous imagery like skulls and a possible connection to the landscape. Making contracts with entities also seems to be a viable method to obtain access to spells.
Regardless of the differences between regions, Valentian magic differs from other continents in that the caster needs no tomes to harness magic, they only need to know the spell itself. However, this comes at a cost of the caster's own energy.
Similarly to Archanea, the dragon tribes introduced magic to Jugdral as well; however, unlike Archanea, this introduction was not entirely planned or intended. Initially, religious figures in Jugdral did not wield magic, and only knew writing, herbal remedies, and basic non-magical medical techniques. A practitioner of the early Jugdrali religion, Galle, traveled to Archanea in his youth and learned a strain of dark magic tomes, as well as staves, from the dragon Loptous. Galle returned to Jugdral and used his new power to form a powerful cult in worship of Loptous, and kept his magic exclusive to the upper ranks of society. For two centuries the Loptous empire ruled Jugdral with its magic.
Hearing of the Loptous empire, Naga and eleven other Divine Dragons traveled to Jugdral and blessed twelve warriors with legendary regalia, with three legendary anima tomes and one light tome included. With these weapons the Twelve Crusaders dismantled the Loptous empire, and tomes and staves came into more widespread use by the populace, with the Crusader regalia being passed down the houses founded by their respective crusader.
In Elibe and Magvel
Like other continents, excepting Valentia, Tellius mages use tomes and staves to channel their magics. A mage can also make a pact with a spirit in exchange for increased magical abilities.
In Hoshido, Nohr, and Valla
- "To release this energy requires a certain amount of skill, such as by chanting keywords or through mental control techniques. In order to acquire a sufficient skill level, one must undergo self-training." — VincentASM, translation of comments by Shouzou Kaga, Mysteries of FE – Akaneia’s Story, Serenesforest.net(webpage), Published: ?, Retrieved: February 24th, 2017
- "Erk: This is the book I was reading. I'm done with it, so you can have it if you want.
Nino: Really? That's great! Oh...but...what should I do?
Erk: I'm sorry?
Nino: I'm still not very good at reading...
Erk: ...Then... How do you use anima magic?
Nino: My mother... Not my real mother, but the one who raised me... She knew all kinds of magic, and I just imitated her from the time I was small.
Erk: You imitated her?
Nino: My mother would hold the tome and chant, right? Well, I just listened to her chants and practiced them over and over until I had memorized them!
Erk: And that...works? But it takes years of training to correctly hear and decipher a chant!
Nino: It does?
Erk: I'm just surprised. You must be a natural genius..." — Erk and Nino, Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade
- "After much struggle, Marth finally escaped and arrived on Khadein soil. He then waited for the rest of his troops to catch up. The magic city, Khadein, is a sanctuary for mages. Many prospecting mages go there to undergo vigorous training. The basis of sorcery relies on sealing nature's hidden power into tomes and staves, and freely using those to harness great power. Hundreds of years ago, a sage created an academy here, and taught his life's teachings to people. However, originally designed to bring happiness to people, magic was used in conflicts, and was bought and sold in masses. The sage was disappointed, and disappeared without a trace. Although it seems hard to believe, some people say that sage was Archsage Gotoh. But right now, those who can wield tomes and staves are limited to a few high bishops. But even they can only use weak fire and heal magic. Powerful magic like Aura cannot be created without the power of orbs. Also, those who can wield such powerful magic are limited in number. This was chosen to be by the will of its creator." — Opening narration of Chapter 9, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
For more in-universe historical context to the events mentioned here please refer to the following timelines: