The Basic Concept of Earth Magic
To use earth magic in role-play is to have the character make use of charms, runes, and spells to supernaturally manipulate the elemental force of earth. At its most intuitive level, a magician using earth magic has the ability to move the inanimate products of nature (dirt, leaves, ore metal) around at his will so long as he has the runes and physical energy to continue. As with most magics, there is a direct correlation between the experience/skill of a magician, the quantity of earth he can control at once, and the intricacy with which he can control it. So, a mid-level earth-magician could either roughly control a large mass of earth or could delicately control a small mass of earth.
The ways to combat an enemy with earth magic are really only limited to the creativity of the player and his character. That being said, these are three common techniques for attacking with the earth: smashing, abrading, and stabbing.
"Smashing" is perhaps the most intuitive way to attack with dirt and rock. Taking advantage of the brute force embodied by the element, an earth mage intending to smash his opponent would generate a hunk of hard earth - most likely solid rock - and hurl it like a projectile at his opponent. The shape of this projectile is flexible and can be a large round hunk, a wide sheet, a rod of earth, or just about anything the mage is talented enough to craft. Ideally, this attack would work much like crushing weapons, intending to batter and break the enemy's body into submission. While these attacks can be dodged by the opponent, a well-aimed collision to the head, chest, or limbs could easily break bones or knock the opponent back and out.
"Abrading" is exactly what it sounds like - the magician uses earthen particles accelerated to excessive speeds to gradually wear away the defenses or, more dangerously, the skin of his opponent. This offensive technique is not as quick as the others, but is much trickier for a victim to escape. By running flurries of sand around a victim at high speeds, the friction of the particles against the victim becomes so much that it actually begins to scrape away the surface layers of whatever it touches - exactly like sandpaper. For weaker mages, targeted abrasions would be much easier and more effective - so, say, a weak mage would try to wear the skin off of his enemy's face or hands, rather than his entire person.
"Stabbing" is more or less the same as "smashing." The variation, though, is that the form the mage gives his earth has a sharp point, and as a projectile the earth works more like an arrow or javelin than a plain rock or boulder. With stabbing, the mage intends to pierce through the enemy's defenses. While these can be dodged by the opponent, a well-aimed collision to a vital point on the opponent's body could easily deliver an irreparable and quick death. Also note that this same process can be used to create a slashing attack.
Defending with earth magic is just like attacking with it - the possibilities are limited only by creativity. Three basic ways to defend against an assailant include blocking, boosting, and veiling.
"Blocking" is perhaps the most intuitive way to defend with earth. The idea behind blocking is that the mage throws a wall or shield of earth up between himself and his attacker. Depending on the strength of the mage and the shield he has created, this could stop projectiles, many magic attacks, and possibly even an advancing warrior. It would be possible for the mage to either raise a chunk of earth out of the ground like a mountain, or to pull the rocky earth up and move it around himself defensively like a shield. A powerful earth mage might be able to create several of these rock shields and circulate them around himself protectively like koopa shells.
"Boosting," then, is when the mage uses his control over the earth to advance his own abilities. He could step out of the way and accelerate the movement faster than he he normally able by pushing himself forward while shifting the earth underfoot or pushing himself along with a hunk of rock. He could also use the earth to help him reach places that would otherwise be difficult to access (and much harder for an armored assailant) by perhaps leaping and boosting himself up farther than he would normally go or splitting an earthen wall to allow himself in, only to close the opening and shut an enemy out. This method, like most others, is flexible given the environment and circumstances."Veiling" is a sort of debuffing tactic to use against an assailant. The premise of veiling is to somehow throw a veil over one or more of the enemy's senses. For example, if the air were thick with dust thrown up by the earth mage, his visibility would be drastically limited and it would be much harder for him to attack. Similarly, the mage could plug the assailant's ears temporarily with dirt and make it much harder for him to hear. The mage covering himself or his friends in dirt could hide scents away from a werewolf or vampyre.
Defending Against It
The key to staying safe to earth magic is to either disable the mage, dodge the spell, or prevent it from directly hitting you. Disabling the mage is a basic idea - if he can't cast the magic spells, you won't be harmed by them. The way to go about disabling him depends on your combat style. Dodging spells works mostly for projectile-type fighting methods, particularly "smashing" attacks and "stabbing" attacks that throw dangerous objects at you. The simple answer for these is to get out of the way or out of range. If all else fails, though, prevent the spell from directly colliding with you by using some kind of barrier method. Put another element - especially water or more earth - between you and your enemy earth magician's attack. Jump into a lake or behind a building or rock. Wooden and elemental shields work well against earth magic, and any kind of leather armor will weaken the effects of a magical spell or, even better, cancel it entirely.
Earth magic has a number of practical uses outside of combat. The following is a list of potential ways to use earth magic in everyday or commercial life.
- An earth mage would be useful in an archaeological dig, given his ability to intricately shift dirt and sand away from something.
- Sand is as useful for writing and drawing to an earth mage as a pencil or chunk of charcoal with papyrus.
- Earth mages can be a useful tool to miners, given their ability to move earth away from raw ore.
- An earth mage would be handy in a construction company. He could solidify a building's foundation, easily use earth to insulate a building, and would also be helpful if there were land that needed deforesting.
This category addresses traits that players, often new ones, give their earth mage characters but that aren't actually legitimate or acceptable traits in users of earth magic.
- Just because you can use earth magic doesn't mean that you can use all of it effectively in every way. A 23 year old human would be competent if he had committed a lot of study to the one elemental magic, but the realm of expert is not yet within his grasp. Remember, if everyone is a prodigy, no one is a prodigy.
- Typically, roleplayers accept generating one level of spell per turn. That means an air spell the size of a wind strike would be at full power immediately. In contrast, to build up to a wind wave, your magician would have to avoid the enemy for a few turns in order to operate it at full power.
- While refined metal is a derivative of earth, it somehow does not get along with most typical magical properties and the magic conducts straight through it. An earth mage can't use his magic to directly control another man's metal armor.
- As with most magics, metal conducts earth magic. Earth magic that comes into contact with an enemy in metal armor would most likely accelerate through the armor and continue on its trajectory.
- Also like most magics, leather weakens earth magic. Earth magic that comes into contact with an enemy in leather armor (especially dragonhide) would lose a lot of its power and do much less damage than it otherwise would have.