the Fifth Age of Ert
Mana is the name for the energy source used to power magic. Mana exists in most people and things. If you can move, manipulate and control Mana, then you can do wondrous things. This is known as Spell Casting.
Everyone in the world has “touched” Mana and some have tried to moved it. It is a common game that children play. Anyone could cast powerful spells if it wasn’t for one problem. Mana has terrible side effects.
The Moving of Mana causes nausea. For about 90% of the population this nausea is so strong they have no desire to have anything to do with Mana. With time and training, this nausea can be controlled. But it is only a small percent of the population where nausea is not a problem.
The next side effect that must be overcome is the Vertigo. This happens when a person tries to manipulate Mana. It is even a small percentage of people that have a tolerance to the Vertigo. The 5% of the population that is not effected strongly by nausea and vertigo are said to have a Magical Tolerance.
These people are sent to school and start the process of learning magic. But even of this group most do not move on because they do not have the level of Magical Tolerance needed to become Mages.
After six years of study, the student starts the next phase in becoming a Mage. In the next two years, he learns the process of Storing large quantities of Mana in himself for long periods. This causes another round of dropouts, as most suffer from debilitating migraines.
In a nation of 100,000 children between 5-8 years old. Roughy 5,000 will end up going to school for Magic. During the six years of education in the first phase only a 500 will move on. From there only 100 will continue their study. Perhaps only 80 of those will graduate as Mages. And even less than that will continue to pursue being a Mage because there are more profitable profession to pursue with the Education provided.
There is a large body of people that have a six year education in Magic (this includes Math, Reading, etc) but cannot store Magic. Many of these go on to learn the Common Magics (or Low Magics). These are rituals casters that uses low power specialized spell craft in their professions.
In reality, most Low Mages earn a good living between their Higher Education and Ritual Magic.
In a world where Mana is accessible at low levels by 5% of the population, the line of “Magic” and “art” get blurred. A fine Artist making an excellent painting is said to have included Magic into the craft. A smith making a quality sword most likely used a little magic while making it. Basically anything of quality and art is just assumed to be “magical” in nature. The two blur.
There is also a large population that has some limited “magical” abilities. A clown that can walk and juggle a tightrope, most likely uses some magic in his act. A long distance runner, most likely has a ritual that has some magic into it. Even a great Warrior might have some magic in his Art of Sword Play. Again, the lines blur.
Since the line is so blurred between exceptional feats and magic, most people do not look for the line in the small things. When a Magician shoots a Fireball, it is obviously Magic. But when a Athlete runs a four minute mile, was that magic? People don’t really look and see. Because there is just a little bit of magic in everything.
Magic = Exceptional.
Now the people that graduate and pursue Magic they are known as Mages. And there are several sub-classes of Mages. There is the Magician, the Mystic, Sorcerers, Warlocks, Frost, Twilight and Noble Mages. And there are others.
There are also a larger body of people that have studied magic, have magical training but cannot store Mana for the long periods needed to cast Major Spells. These are known as the Low Mages.
Low Mages often pursue other interest but still cast some spells though the Arts of Rituals and Circles. They cannot cast spells instantaneously but need long periods of time to work magic. And these are minor works.
But most great Smiths and other Artist fall into this description. Using minor magic in their craft to create exceptional works. A Smith making a sword will often use rituals in help him in his craft. So again the lines are blurred between Art and Magic.