Channelling is the magical discipline of directing raw elemental energy through spells and rituals. In some ways it imitates the innate abilities of the spirits and for this reason some people view it as a sacred practice.
Every element can be channelled through a range of spells and rituals. Although evokers also use spells to bind spirits, this is a very narrow pursuit compared to the many effects channellers can bring about, and elemental rituals are likewise far more flexible exceeding those used in evocation.
A magician who devotes sufficient study to an element can gain mastery of it: the ability to improvise new effects and combine their powers with others. However, it is not normally possible for possible for a magician to learn opposed elements. For instance an Earth channeller can also learn Fire or Metal magic, but not both, and cannot use Wood or Water.
An interesting quality of channelling is that while its effects are quite clear, the way in which it actually works is hard to pin down. For example, when casting the Bolt of Metal - a simple but effective offensive spell - one magician might see a literal metal bolt fly towards the target, while another might see a bolt of lightning, and another might visualise the target’s body being crushed by ethereal chains. Even when there are multiple witnesses to a single casting of a spell they will often have different memories of what it looked like - though they will definitely agree on the results.
Channellers’ powers to heal, harm, strengthen, scry, and do many other things have a profound effect on society in the world of Arginet. Healers using Wood and Earth spells can save people from otherwise deadly injuries, magical communication and divination are widespread, and battlefield use of magic is often seen as indispensable.
Channelling is often spoken of as an ‘art’, and like other arts it is mastered through talent and training. Many channellers are self-taught, especially those from poorer backgrounds, but the wealthy and especially the nobility may have the benefit of tutors or even instruction at a college. This disparity is seen as a serious social issue by some.
Within the Noble Houses, channelling is a studied by a substantial minority because of the ready availability of tuition. A few nobles make use of magic for duelling and can win fame in doing so. However, there are few specialist channellers within the nobility sensu stricto because it is seldom seen as worth devoting one’s life to - along the lines of composing poetry, hunting, or polo.
The Royal Armies are notable for providing intensive training in any form of channelling that can be directly applied to battle. Most Army companies are supported by at least a few channellers wielding healing and offensive magic, and smaller numbers of diviners assist more conventional scouts and logisticians. The Armies strongly favour specialisation, and study for its own sake is discouraged as a waste of time.
Most people in the Reform Coalition view channelling as a valuable tool that can be turned to achieving their goals. Some Reformists devote a great deal of time to mastering an element, while others may learn one or two spells or rituals to complement their mundane skills. In all cases the Coalition has a reputation for being creative with magic and it sometimes finds novel uses for old disciplines.