Magic is the force that enables the casting of spells and that provides unusual powers to certain artifacts, monsters, or places. Along with combat and character attributes, magic is one of the core gameplay elements in Eamon and is a part of most adventures.
Donald Brown in the original Eamon Player's Manual explains the presence of magic in the world of Eamon as the result of its unique location, a point at the center of the galaxy where the "strange forces" of surrounding bodies result in the twisting of "light, tides, even the laws of science itself." He also notes that magical effects produced by these forces tend to be highly localized and often vary from place to place, with some areas lacking magic entirely; this explanation helps rationalize the varied behavior of magic in adventures written by many different authors. The Power spell, described as an appeal to "the Gods", suggests that magic may be governed at least in part by other forces.
Magic present in areas outside of Eamon isn't as clearly explained, but seems to work in a similar fashion. In describing Diurla, the setting of his SwordThrust series, Brown notes the same kind of variability in local magic which can produce "dead zones" where no magic is possible; he also notes that some areas, such as the Main Hall of the Guild of Free Rogues, are deliberately "counter-spelled" to suppress the use of magic.
The depiction of magic in Eamon is similar to that in Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game that influenced Brown. D&D itself drew inspiration from Jack Vance's The Dying Earth, a series of stories in which characters must memorize magical spells and may forgot them when they're used. This system of magic is sometimes called "Vancian".
- Blast, which casts a burning arrow at a target;
- Heal, which can clear damage from an adventurer or monster;
- Speed, which improves agility; and
- Power, an unpredictable spell which Brown describes as a "call to the Gods saying, 'hey, do something!'"
In general, these spells are available everywhere and work the same way anywhere; however, Brown notes that local magic is stronger than these universal effects and can cause them to work differently (or not at all) in certain areas.
Magical effects that apply only to certain areas or objects are known as local magic; this class represents nearly all the custom magical effects built into individual adventures, the majority of which feature at least some local magic. An example is the magical book found in The Beginners Cave which turns the reader into a fish.
Variations to otherwise universal spells are normally the result of local magic.
Practitioners of magic appear frequently in Eamon, often identified as wizards, witches, warlocks, mages, or sorcerers. Hokas Tokas, the resident wizard of the guild, is the best known and most frequently seen. The Graphics Master adds a witch to the town square who can alter adventurers' attributes; Super Eamon adds one named Abby Cadabra who frequents the guild bar.
Donald Brown writes that portions of Eamon were once ruled by "great wizard-kings", of which Molinar was the last.
In a far distant future, the land is ruled by six benevolent sorcerers known the Council of the Mystics who are practitioners of Rhadshur — a semi-scientific, semi-mystic art that comingles science and magic (Rhadshur Warrior).
Adventures without magic
Authors occasionally build adventures without magic of any kind, usually to serve some aspect of the story. The first such adventure was The Death Star by Donald Brown: to stay true its source material, it disables magic spells and instead forces the adventurer to depend on a light sabre. Others include:
- The City in the Clouds by Evan Hodson, another Star Wars-themed adventure.
- The Wizard of the Spheres by Marc Elkin, in which a wizard has nullified your standard spells.
- The Tomb of Razaak by David Owens, a science-fiction adventure.