In the past, we’ve briefly touched on how items can be imbued with a spell. There are many different purposes for enchanting an object, but it’s important to point out a few things. First of all, despite magic being very important to life in Idenau, magical items are less common than you might think. Because spells are usually transient actions, casting a spell with “staying power” on an item requires a high level of skill, energy, and concentration. In addition, such items often require the user to have some magical skill or personal affinity, meaning that not just anyone will be able to activate them. It is for these reasons that technology of the kind we might recognize has advanced to the point it has in modern Idenau. Magic cannot be used by everyone for everything.

In addition, a spell cast on an item is not permanent. Depending on the strength of the caster, an item’s enchantment could last anywhere from weeks to years. But what about items that have lasted through centuries or even millennia? Ancient artifacts, such as the Sword of Stabbing, the Orb of the Gods, or the Compass were crafted by immensely powerful sages who are believed to have been channeling the power of the gods themselves.

Items can be enhanced to make them easier, safer, or more efficient for the user to handle. For instance, a magical sword could be enchanted to feel lighter in the hands, or for the blade to remain razor-sharp. Many possibilities are open to the spellcaster with enough creativity and skill. For instance, a magical kitchen knife could be enchanted to recognize living flesh and dull before hitting it, so you don’t chop your finger instead of the vegetables!

One of our readers recently wanted to know if magic could be used in the musical or visual arts, and how Idenians would feel about the value of the end result. In truth, magic is often used for entertainment purposes, and magical instruments do exist. Some people who specialize in both magic and music can create enchanted instruments capable of playing songs on their own. This essentially is done by the spellcaster “recording” themselves playing a song on the instrument, which can then be triggered to replay itself in response to a magical touch from the user in the future. Such an instrument can be viewed as a pleasant novelty in itself, like a music box. Popular bands also sometimes use this method. Like lip-syncing, using these pre-recorded instruments prevents them from making a mistake on stage. However, if they are found out, such a method is often viewed with disdain.

Instruments can also be enchanted to enhance their abilities. For instance, a trumpet could be enhanced to play louder, to stay in tune, or to ensure that a note would not crack. A spell can even alter the soundwaves coming out of an instrument to make it sound like another instrument! The equivalent of synthesizers or MIDI keyboards have existed in Idenau for ages, able to conjure up the perfectly-recreated sounds of other instruments from a single piano or organ. In essence, some of the musical creativity that was not available in our world until the advent of electronics has been available in Idenau for a long time. As another example, a magical guitarist could use the “recording” method to play a solo, but then enhance the spell so that the guitar would play it back faster than he would otherwise be capable of. Some people may view using magically-enhanced instruments as “cheating”, like many people think of auto-tuning in our world. However, others hail such instruments as a way to increase creativity as it makes the creation of music easier for a wider range of people. It really depends on the specific enchantment in question.

As for visual arts, a similar recording method can be used on pencils and pens to have them recreate a drawing or sketch. In this way, art can be mass-produced. To many people, this does not decrease the value of the original drawing, and is mainly viewed as a way to make a piece of art available to more eyes. However, one-of-a-kind art produced by hand is still viewed with the highest esteem. When it comes to sculpting, pottery making, and other crafts, magical means are often used by those who are able, instead of physical tools; however, it still takes a large amount of skill and creativity to manipulate the magical plane to create something beautiful in the physical plane, and thus spell-crafted and hand-crafted objects are viewed with equal respect. They are merely different approaches to creativity.

Magic is extremely prevalent in theatre, where it is often used for special effects. Enchanted props are sometimes employed – for instance, a floating object may represent a ghost if no actual ghosts could be cast for the production. Illusion spells are also often used in place of make-up, for instance, to make a young actor into an old character or to show a cursed transformation. A play or musical is hardly ever staged without magic playing an important role. A show usually has a “Magic Engineer”, “Magic Director” or “Head Spellcaster” who is given prominent billing and thanks in the program. This person helps direct how magic could best enhance the production, and is in charge of casting the appropriate spells at the right times, often from backstage or in the rafters.

Feel free to ask any further questions that this discussion may have sparked! This is a broad subject, after all. And thanks to Thaumaturge for being the aforementioned reader who inspired this Q&A!