In The Watchmage Chronicles, all matter in the mundane world is made of the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Aether (Note: although there is no knowledge of atoms or anything like that, these combinations go down to subatomic levels…work with me here). Wizards and Magelings learn how to manipulate the five elements to transform reality, with varying degrees of success. Among Dwellers, only Sidhe are able to manipulate the Five Elements. Wizards combine the elements with their Chaos Seeds for more powerful effects.
Elemental energy is within everything, even human beings. A Wizard or Mageling learns to tap the elemental energy inside of him, but this is limited. They can also draw energy from other places, such as crystals, herbs, fire, water, and premade curios and relics. Although Wizards can use these as well, their Chaos Seed makes it unnecessary.
The Elements and Their Uses
Most simple spells are performed with only one or two elements, but complex spells can involve all five. Depending on the spell pattern, different energies can be used for similar effects. In addition, talented and accomplished Wizards and Magelings can weave spells using elements outside what one would expect, making that spell harder to unweave. Elements are the threads, but the spell pattern creates the final product.
Earth: Besides the obvious like ground and stone, Earth energy is used in spells involving plants, animals (including humans), and physical attributes such as strength and durability. It’s often combined with Water and Aether for healing effects, though extreme healing requires all five elements and considerable power.
Air: Air energy is used for transport spells such as flight and appration, as well as weather control (along with Water) and sound. It can be a powerful offensive and defensive weapon when combined with other elements, creating bolts of force, telekinesis, speed, and even electrical effects.
Water: Water energy is used for weather (along with Air) and ice and steam effects. Because Water is the source of life and is everywhere, it can be very potent. Water Energy is important in healing spells, and its inverse (anything that heals can also kill). There are legends about Wizards that can pull the Water right out of a person’s body, drying them up like the desert.
Fire: Fire energy is used in the most obvious offensive spells. Fire spells are often difficult to control, because fire itself is so chaotic. If used correctly, fire is a vital tool, what set us apart from cavemen. Fire, along with Earth, can be used to increase vitality, as in “inner fire.” Fire spells are discouraged in heavily populated areas, for obvious reasons.
Aether: Aether is the most difficult of elements to understand, as it cannot be perceived. Aether represents the mind and soul, but also the cosmos. Aether is beyond most people’s understanding, and it is very difficult for a mageling to use (though Hendricks proved able to use it in The Watchmage of Old New York). Aether is used in telepathic and emotional effects, illusions, and offensive spells that involve movement, such as force and telekinesis (when combined with Air). It is the most important element in healing spells, which is why powerful healing spells are beyond the scope of almost all magelings.