The world of Narosia is steeped in a magical energy known as essence. Although essence is intricately intertwined with the physical world it is not of this world. Rather, it is a product of the realm of the spirit. Essence permeates all things, living and unliving alike, and can alter the very fabric of physical reality. Its effects are wide ranging, from the logic defying flight of dragons to the fantastic spells shaped by wizards.
Those who learn to consciously harness the power of essence to create supernatural effects are called spellshapers. There are many types of spellshapers in Narosia, as all creatures are capable of manipulating essence. Adepts are those shapers trained to manipulate and shape it according to rote patterns. Mages are skilled Adepts possessed of Essence Touch, and thus able to feel the essence flows and command greater control of them.
Potential and skill however are very different things. Learning to shape spells requires specialized training and a singular determination. While in theory any narosian with dedication and means may learn to shape spells, only a relative few are truly able.
Essence is the energy that allows magic to exist. There are two primary sources of essence on Narosia; ambient essence and personal essence.
Ambient Essence is essence that flows freely in the ether of the universe. The concentration of its power varies from place to place and since the Age of Darkness its quality varies as well. In locations where acts of great evil took place, or a particularly Dark creature dwelt, the ambient essence may have been corrupted and transformed into Dark Essence.
Inherent Essence is found in the spirit of every living thing, from simple plants to the sentient races. The spirits of these beings act as essence vessels, each one containing a limited amount of concentrated essence. By drawing out personal essence and then shaping it with specialized formulas, one can create supernatural effects in the physical world. This technique of drawing and shaping essence is called spellshaping.