Magic (Japanese: 魔法 Rōmaji: mahō) in the Slayers world is somewhat different from the magic systems of other fantasy worlds. Although spell effects are achieved by manipulating an energy known as mana, a common methodology in fantasy settings, in this world, spellcasters with no innate magic ability cannot access and control mana directly. Instead, casting a spell requires calling upon another entity with the ability to use such energies and "asking" it to lend some of its might. This does not need to be a specific creature; in many cases, a spiritual or natural force is a sufficient medium. Because of the unusual way of spellcasting in this world, spell incantations are more like invocations rather than unintelligible phrases, making simpler magic accessible to almost everyone who can memorize a few lines of text and learn some simple mental exercises.
Magical creatures, especially mazoku, on the other hand, can achieve spell-like effects through sheer force of will by drawing upon their own arcane resources. However, even these creatures have been seen using what appear to be spells in certain situations. Sometimes they do this merely to disguise themselves, but in other occasions, they may employ these spells channeling their own power to achieve complex effects, such as summoning, that they seem to be incapable of otherwise.
A spell in the Slayers world has two components:
- Chaos Words: Uttering these sentences takes up the most time while casting. The Chaos Words are different for each spell, (and the more powerful the spell, the longer the incantation) and usually contain the name(s) of the force(s) the caster calls upon and the basic declaration of the sorcerer's intent. The caster may skip this phase and only utter the Chaos Words mentally, but saying them aloud makes the casting easier.
- Power Words: Basically the name of the spell, which needs to be declared after chanting the Chaos Words. Once again, saying it aloud is not necessary, but doing so does not take as much time and makes controlling the spell easier. Some special spells, such as Boost, lack this component altogether.
Another important aspect of spells is that most of them, with the exception of elemental (air, fire, earth and water) shamanistic magic, are mostly astral phenomena, and as such always deal damage in the astral side first, before manifesting its remaining destructive power in the physical world. (Meaning that the amount of destruction they cause on the astral side is inversely proportional to the amount of damage they can then deal in the physical world.) Because of this, creatures whose astral body is sealed off or missing (such as the Overworlders in Slayers TRY) are immune to most spells. However, objects which naturally lack astral bodies are affected by magic normally, as the spell's full destructive power manifests in the physical world in this case.
Magic in the Slayers world can be put into four categories:
- Shamanistic magic: Spells that call upon the forces of nature and simple astral energies.
- Black magic: Offensive spells that utilize the power of mazoku.
- White magic: Spells that heal, protect and keep evil spirits away. Its power source is obscure, currently stated to be part of shamanistic magic by Kanzaka in a novel afterword. (See the article for details.)
- Holy magic: Spells that use the power of shinzoku.
A few distinct spells, such as those which call upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares, do not belong to any of the categories described above.
In the Slayers universe, there is no established tradition of designating spellcasters based upon their specialities in magic, which is another major difference to many other fantasy settings; while a number of different "spellcaster names" are bandied about in Slayers stories, they do not actually correlate to a given spellcaster's affinity for magic, as far as is evidenced. Translations and non-canonical material do sometimes imply or state that this is not the case, but the differing names are canonically a result of different translations of a single Japanese term that is applied to all spellcasters in the original language.
- Slayers novel 6: Vezendi's Shadow, page 169-171
- Slayers Special 8, page 229-233 (Original Japanese version.) (http://tokitama.net78.net/slayers-etc/some-special.html#8p229 - Please note that the translation uses "spirit magic" to refer to shamanistic magic in general, not to astral shamanistic magic in particular.)