41 minutes ago
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The Art of Illusion
Beyond the “scientific” sorcerers of the Thaumaturgical Society and the hedge hex-workers and folk conjurers, there exists another group of magic-users in the City. Illusionists (as they style themselves) bridge the gap between real magic and stage performance.
The origins of the arts of illusion are obscure. Thaumaturgical scholars suggest it developed as a way for low-skill sorcerers to earn a living, while illusionists hold it developed from ancient mystery ritual practices in Ealderde given to mankind by a pagan trickster god. Illusionists claim (much to the irritation of their thaumaturgical rivals) that several historic mages revered by thaumaturges were actually illusionists who pulled off big tricks. However it began, illusionism seems to have first been practiced as a form of thievery, usually as part of a confidence game, but gradually developed into a performance art.
Illusionists know powerful spells, but their repertoire is mostly limited to those that deceive the senses in one way or another. They combine the use of real thaumaturgy with the use of sleight-of-hand and other stage tricks. Economy of magic is their goal; They look down on the obvious displays of thaumaturgists.
Illusionists, it's said (by illusionists), take a solemn oath not to reveal their secrets (magical or legerdemain) to non-illusionists. They claim that there exists an international Brotherhood of Illusion which enforces this pledge--though evidence for the existence of this organization is hardly above suspicion as fabrication. Certainly, an Illusionists Guild exists in the City, but the theatrics and misdirection surrounding it make it impossible to know its true size or influence.