The Science of Magic

A thaumaturgic wet collection. Thaumaturgic collections, are a core element of the thaumaturgic science. Specimens, collected in the field, are preserved for study, dissection, and extraction. Specimens come in a variety of forms, as preservation methods differ between specimen types, and reason for collection. In cases where the collected specimen is intended for unitization (vs. study), specific tissues are generally all that is collected. The preservation of tissue can be preserved in a wet solution, or dried whole, or dried and ground to a powder for easier transportation. Preservation methods are dependant on the requirements of the specific specimen being collected. 

Thaumaturgic Topics

Thaumaturgy, a school of magic, is believed to have been conceived by the enigmatic Wapenzi of Al-Wāāt ul'Ihāt Kathira1. Resembling wizardry in its scholarly pursuit, this arcane science is founded upon the meticulous collection, preservation, and study of magical creatures and their parts.

A thaumaturge, with careful precision, extracts or distills the magical abilities from these creatures, with the goal of later weaving their abilities into objects, and most famously, Manyoya. These are the vibrant feathers of the Mchawi Ndege, a species of tropical bird from the Hazina Dada islands, imbued with potent magic. Manyoya are not merely items of enchantment but can be perilous to those unversed in their power.

GM Note: Running the Sayarii Magic System in Dungeons & Dragons, and other RPGs

This section aims to guide you through integrating the unique magic system of Sayarii into your Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop RPG campaigns. The Sayarii magic system is not a replacement for your existing magic system but serves as a supplemental layer that adds depth, complexity, and a touch of originality to your adventures.

The Feather Magic Chronicles: A Primer

In the introductory campaign "The Feather Magic Chronicles," characters from traditional RPG worlds like Faerûn are transported to Sayarii through an ocean portal. They are recruited for their magical abilities to help thwart a looming conspiracy that threatens both worlds. While they retain their original magical powers, they'll find that magic in Sayarii operates under different rules and limitations.

Magic in Three Forms

Magic is Sayarii comes in three primary forms. Magic Thaumaturgic Items, created by an academic thaumaturgists  from the essences and preserved organs of magical creatures. Manyoya, feathers of the Mchawi Ndege, or Magician bird, which are placed onto the tongue of users and can, depending on the type of feather, grant magical abilities, or transport users to the Mahali Mizuka, an anomalous plane created by or from the memories of the dead. Finally there are artifacts, magic items that have survived from the time of the great fall (Karithat ul'Qadima). The most common of these items being the cadence core. Artifacts are taboo, feared for their relationship to the Karithat ul'Qadima. Many are illicit and their use or possession is forbidden. This is particularly true in the cultures of the Bara Kusini - but more loosely by the Ul'Harbiya Il'Sultaniya Saahilian ~ The Eastern Sultanate who horde artifacts for their power. 

Magic in Sayarii: Rarity and Complexity

In the world of Sayarii, magic is an elusive resource. With many magical creatures facing the grim prospect of extinction, the wellspring of magical power is drying up. Even magical items (See Thaumaturgic Items), though they do exist, are far from straightforward tools; they are intricate relics often accompanied by unpredictable side effects.

Feather Magic: The Unique Twist

Feathers in Sayarii are the closest thing to a magical component. These feathers only work as long as the bird they came from is alive. They are sourced from the Hazini Dada islands, a demilitarized zone stewarded by the avian race, the Fēixiān. The rarity and limitations of these feathers add a unique challenge and ethical dimension to magic use in Sayarii.

Additional Element: Manyoya Feathers as Scrolls and Narrative Devices

One of the most crucial aspects of integrating the Sayarii magic system into your campaign is understanding the role of Manyoya feathers. These feathers serve dual purposes: as functional magical components akin to scrolls and as narrative devices that can enrich your storytelling.

Manyoya ya Viungo: The Scroll Equivalent

For the sake of simplicity and gameplay mechanics, Thaumaturgic Manyoya feathers, or Manyoya ya Viungo, can be treated like scrolls in traditional D&D. A player can use one of these feathers to cast a specific spell, consuming a charge from the feather in the process. This provides a straightforward way to incorporate Sayarii's unique magic into your campaign without overcomplicating the rules.

Other Manyoya Feathers: Narrative Tools

The other types of Manyoya feathers are more complex and serve as narrative devices. These feathers can be used to create "narrative spaces," allowing for intricate storytelling opportunities. For example, a feather could be used to enter a shared dream, communicate with the deceased, or even solve a murder mystery. These narrative spaces offer a rich tapestry for Game Masters to weave intricate plots and for players to explore unique challenges.

Guidelines for Integration

  1. Characters from Other Worlds: Characters imported from other realms retain their magical abilities. This makes them special and highly sought after in Sayarii.

  2. Sayarii Natives: Native characters can be any class but will not have magical abilities. They can, however, be thaumaturges, following the guidelines outlined in the Sayarii lore.

  3. Resource Scarcity: Make it clear that magical resources are scarce, and the ethical implications of using them are significant.

  4. Feather Magic: Introduce the mechanics of feather magic as a supplemental system. Manyoya ya Viungo can be treated like scrolls for spellcasting, while other feathers serve as narrative devices.

  5. Magic Items: If players find or create a magical item, make sure it comes with its own set of rules and limitations, adding an extra layer of complexity and decision-making.

  6. Ethical and Geopolitical Implications: The scarcity of magic in Sayarii should be a recurring theme, affecting not just spellcasting but also the political and ethical landscape.

Final Thoughts

The magic system in Sayarii is designed to add layers of complexity and ethical dilemmas to your campaign. It challenges players to think more deeply about the resources they use and the impact they have on a world that is running out of magic. The dual role of Manyoya feathers as both functional magical components and narrative devices adds a unique layer of depth, offering both mechanical and storytelling opportunities.

Feel free to adapt these guidelines to fit the needs and preferences of your gaming group.

Among the thaumaturges, the Mwandishi, or Mwotaji ya Kaharabu - "Feather Scribes," stand as a rare and formidable class. They dedicate their lives to manipulating the Manyoya, entering a trance-like state achieved by inhaling smoke from the amber-like dried sap of the Maono Mhosa Cactus found in the Deserts of the Bara Kusini. This substance bestows a set of unique abilities with Manyoya, enabling them to manipulate the inherent magic of the feathers far beyond the reach of most academic thaumaturges, though often at a significant personal cost.

Unlike the more spontaneous "field magic," Thaumaturgy demands a methodical approach. The thaumaturge requires extensive anatomical knowledge, reference materials, specimens, alchemical substances, time, and a well-equipped laboratory to practice the art. Though capable of magical feats, a thaumaturge's abilities, or ujuzi, are often highly specialized and developed over years of study. However, the magically imbued objects crafted by a skilled thaumaturge can be wielded by anyone, extending the reach of this enigmatic art.

1. The belief that the Wapenzi discovered thaumaturgy and/or the thaumaturgic method is a broadly held misconception. For a broader history on this topic, see "Thaumaturgic History and the Karithat ul'Qadima" by Bakari Sefu (from the Feather Magic Chronicles)   

Thaumaturgic Glossary

The Mahali Mizuka

Mahali Mizuka, Old-Kawiada, translates as  "The place of ghosts/memories," is the thaumaturgic space that manyoya feathers open to users.  The nature of this opening depends on the scribing of the feather. Visitors to Mahali Mizuka are most often unaware they are Inbetween, though some, known as the Mizimu, become conscious of this otherworldly realm.

For more information see Topic: The Mahali Mizuka


Manyoya: Plural | Unyoya: Singular. Feathers plucked from the Mchawi Ndege, or "The Magician Bird," found only on specific islands. Highly magical, Manyoya have broad thaumaturgic value as memory vessels and in the granting of temporary magical abilities. They also allow passage to Mahali Mizuka.

Distinct from ordinary bird feathers, called "Bulu" in Kawaida and "Baloo" in Chumvi.

For more information see Topic: the Manyoya & Unyoya Uchawi.

Mchawi Ndege - The Magician Bird

A unique species of bird known for its magical feathers, Manyoya.

For more information see entry on Mchawi Ndege - the Magician Bird in the Sayarii Bestiary

Mizimu - The Haunted

A rare "ujuzi" or Knack, where Unyoya users become aware they are in Mahali Mizuka (the Inbetween). These individuals describe the feeling as being haunted by a sense of the real world looming over them in while they are in Mahali Mizuka. 

Roughly 1 in 20 individuals have this rare ujuzi (a roll of 20 on a D20). New visitors to the Mahali Mizuka should check to see if they are among the Mizumi. 

The Mizimu can pull themselves and others from the Mahali Mizuka. Mizimu who enter the Mahali Mizuka should make a wisdom saving throw (against fear) the first 4 times they enter the Inbetween. Those who fail, will ultimately panic and pull themselves and anyone else in the party, out of the Mahali Mizuka. This effect is not Immediate, and the timing can be determined by the Game Master.  

Being a Mizimu is a prerequisite to becoming a powerful class of thaumaturge known as the Mwandishi.

Mwandishi - Feather Scribes

Mwandishi - Feather Scribes Mwandishi are thaumaturges with potent abilities to manipulate Manyoya. These feather savants shape and manipulate Mahali Mizuka using the amber-like dried sap of the Maono Mhosa, a desert plant.

For more information see Topic: Mwandishi - Feather Scribes
Also see Topic: Maono Mhosa


A practitioner of thaumaturgy.

For more information see entry on Thaumaturge ~ Class

Ujuzi - Knacking

A term for inherent magical abilities or "knacks" within the practice of Thaumaturgy.
E.g.. the Mizimu 

Unyoya Uchawi - Feather Magic

Considered the highest form of magic among thaumaturges, Unyoya Uchawi involves the intricate manipulation of Manyoya.

For more information see Topic: the Manyoya & Unyoya Uchawi.

Unyoya Mzuka - Feather Ghosts

The Unyoya Mzuka are souls lost in Mahali Mizuka, wandering unaware in the Inbetween. The danger of becoming lost is high for those practicing Unyoya Uchawi within Mahali Mizuka. Often, a Mizimu is required to retrieve these lost souls.