What’s an Arcanist? Part 2

Author: Anonymous


So what do arcanists do? Well, just as Dhulef struggled to explain what a warden is, so too am I hard pressed to categorize these spellcasters. I’ll try to paint with a broad brush and apologies in advance if I splash you.

Arcanist spellcasting makes use of several potent metaphors, each of which seems to result in extremely powerful workings. While all mages use runes of varying kinds, the runework utilized by arcanists is elaborate in the extreme.

These runeforms allow for powerful beam projections, near impenetrable spell armor matrices, and—I’ll use the word “inventive”—restorative magics with a variety of possible outcomes. Runes and language seem to be the core conceit of arcanist thaumaturgical underpinnings. While many of these other metaphors are used variably by individual spellcasters, the idea of scribing a rune on reality to shape and shift its form seems to be universal.

Because of the connection to the Scryer’s realm, it most likely will not surprise readers to learn tentacles play a role in several common spellworks. Offensively, these constructs are highly impressive and highly disturbing. I saw firsthand a self-professed arcanist make use of quickly summoned tentacles to fend off a horde of undead on the outskirts of Glenumbra, and it’s a visual, olfactory, and auditory experience I won’t soon forget.

Another common metaphor draws from a defining characteristic of Apocrypha, the great Abyssal Sea that dominates a large portion of the realm. Its far shores have never been fully explored by any researcher I’m aware of, and the depths of its inky waters have likely swallowed more secrets than living memory can imagine. Tides, swells, breakers, and shoals, this extra-Nirnian ocean is a powerful source of magic for arcanists, who seem to have no trouble channeling and shaping its waters to their will.

Fate itself is a sharply honed instrument in the arcanist tool box. I’ve seen arcanists tweak probability around them in clever and interesting ways, an echo of the fate sight said to be held by the lord of Apocrypha.


While it’s tempting to ring the university bells and proclaim a new and potent locus of mystic abilities gaining prominence before our very eyes, as with so many things in our world, I believe the truth is somewhat more complicated. Research into this phenomenon leads me to believe “arcanists” have likely been among us for some time, though perhaps in different forms or without the catchy appellation.

It’s worth noting, too: Hermaeus Mora’s “portfolio” among the Daedric princes plays heavily into the mystic metaphors used by these casters, but that’s entirely a function of the arcanist relationship with the realm of secrets—not the squid-faced prince himself. In point of fact, several arcanists I interviewed recently expressed a deep distrust or even hatred of the Prince of Knowledge. While others verged on a cultist’s zeal for the Inevitable Knower.

This is all to say magic in Tamriel is far more varied and unique than our scholarly papers and neat historical treatises could ever allow for. The arcanist phenomenon is one that I wanted to draw your attention to, and perhaps make you aware of new and exciting metaphor groupings cropping up in your own province or town!

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