The Fortress of Xie'e Wu Xing
Like weaponry, magic is strictly controlled by the Shogunate. The Lands of Nippon have no “generalist wizards;” magic is divided into small and closely-guarded styles, and any given sorcerer is likely to be skilled in only one kind, or a few closely related fields.
The vast majority of PC spell-casters will be Samurai mahoutsukai (elementalists, specialized in one or more of the traditional Five Elements: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, or Wood) or Priests (busso, kannushi, or shugenja), with either Elemental Influence (DF9, p. 10) or Power Investiture (Holy, Druidic, both DF1, p. 19, or Shamanic, DF9, p. 18) instead of normal Magery. A commoner with Magery and a few folk magic spells is possible, but he won’t be able to use magic in combat, nor even in public most of the time, and so must rely on other abilities in most situations. A magically-apt Ninja may know a few illusion or mind control spells in addition to his other abilities, but like all of his secrets, he must keep them from outsiders.
And finally, some players whisper of corrupt and insidious GMs who will indulge dark bargains, allowing a PC to learn forbidden spells and abilities. But the price of such a bargain is likely to be high indeed…
Combat-effective elemental magic is the sole province of the bushi caste; commoners seen tossing around fireballs are likely to be hunted down and executed by a team of samurai sorcerers. One exception to this is the nature-aspected magic of the shugenja, which includes potent invocations of elemental power. A smattering of minor elemental spells can be found among the spells of most priestly and folk traditions as well, any spell that can be used in combat in any but the most roundabout way is strictly controlled.
Healing magic is primarily the domain of the busso, and to a lesser extent other priests, although some folk magical traditions involve minor healing spells. Other priestly magic focuses on spiritual communication and warfare, or combat-effective blessings, depending on the specific interests of the priesthood in question.
Nature magic is found primarily among the shugenja, and to a lesser extent the kannushi, who commune with the kami of the natural world. In this sense, nature magic is closely related to spirit magic – a Shinto priest must equally be able to speak with the kami of the natural world, of the dead, and of the Other worlds. Shugenja focus their attention on the spirits and powers and nature, while kannushi focus on the spirits of civilization.
Spirit magic – the magic of the kami – is nominally the domain of the priesthood, particularly the kannushi. Many exceptions exists, however, as virtually all kinds of Nipponese magic involve spirits of one kind or another. Elemental magics can influence elemental spirits; busso are adept at exorcism and other forms of warfare against malevolent spirits, and have favorable relationships with many benevolent (“Enlightened”) otherworldly entities; and the shugenja commune with many kami, particularly those of the natural places. And of course, the dark and forbidden arts of demonology and necromancy always lurk in the shadows. The spirit magic of the kannushi touches upon all of these, by speaking with the kami that influence and interact with invoked magical forces.
Folk magic is technically illegal, but most practitioners are discrete enough, and most samurai ignore it as long as it isn’t used to cause them trouble. Most villages (even Eta communities) have a wise-man or woman, and most towns have at least one alchemist/apothecary. In addition to their mundane skills in herbalism and medicine, many of these individuals know a smattering of basic spells – mostly minor (no more than 2 prereqs) elemental, healing, nature, and spirit spells – to assist in their profession.
Ninja magic is practiced by some ninja clans in addition to their other skills, and primarily involves spells of illusion, mind control, and stealth. Like all of their secrets, these clans guard their magic jealously, although many hengeyokai (shape-shifting animals) know similar magics.
Black magic includes the forbidden arts of the demonologist and the necromancer, outlawed to all persons and in all places throughout the Lands of Nippon. Even so, there are always those who look to these sources of power, from samurai to commoners to Eta outcasts. To dabble in these magics is to risk more than the simple death that comes if discovered by the authorities; the beings that the necromancer and demonologist deals with claim much higher prices.