What are the practical limitations of free-casting?

Just as the title suggests, what are the practical limits of free casting?

How far away can you cast? If casting at a distance, is it limited by line of sight? Because theoretically on a high-visibility day, on a flat plane, a person with normal eyesight could cast anywhere between 4 & 10 km.

During S’s training, it was also mentioned that you can distance the output to places you can’t see but can imagine. Is that limited only to places you’ve been to before? Would a photograph, drawing or description of the location suffice?

Could Lacer theoretically cast inside the high crowns throne room - granted it wasn’t warded heavily - while being outside of it? Does he have to be in the immediate vicinity or can he do it from his office?

Does distance become hindered by physical obstacles? Similar to the way WiFi and data can be blocked by large structures or by being underground.

Also, do all wards, whether minor or major, block free casting or can you overpower them? I would imagine there is more danger since you are opposing another thaumataurges will but given Lacers power, it should be possible. Like the way he overpowered S’s divination wards when he free cast a diagnostic divination.

That means to a certain point, depending on the power of the free caster, they can also free cast in areas with wards.

This makes free- casters immeasurably more flexible and more dangerous compared to other sorcerers in my opinion. Other sorcerers need to step into the space to cast the spell so they will trigger the wards anyway or may be even barred from entering but free casters can do it from a distance.

Does free casting past wards trigger them? Is there a way to free cast past wards undetectably? In Lacers attempts, Sebastian noticed but given the nature of her wards I would say it would difficult to bypass them silently. Do wards need to be broken or can they be circumvented of bypassed silently like jumping over a trip wire or something?

This is probably a lot but I’ve been so curious about it ever since I learnt about the mechanics of the world. Free casting just seems so much more inherently superior and has infinitely more utility so it makes sense that it’s so much more difficult to become a free caster that so few people have actually managed it. With it’s utility though, I would have thought there would be more of a push to producd free casters even if the success rate is low.

You can get more free casters if the success rate remains the same but more People actually attempt it. It seems that not everyone thinks they’re even capable or are intimidated by the prospect (the difficulty) of it so don’t even try and never have a chance to find out.

But then again the high crowns are trying to suppress increased power within factions that are not their own.


I don’t have the time this morning to type up a thoughtful, coherent reply, but I do have a minute to tell you what an awesome post this is. I love how much thought you’ve put into this (and all of your responses and comments, actually). I’m going to let my thoughts percolate and come back to it this evening with a more thoughtful response.


Even though distanced output from free casting is different from divination I’m pretty sure that it does gradually become less efficient over distance, and especially through dense materials. That seems like a fairly concrete limiter on magic in this universe, the S’s bracelets didn’t work when she was behind all that stone, despite being a sympathetic link for example.

Free casting basically seems to just offload the array to existing within your own mind, and if the array is in your mind, you can designated it’s physical location as being basically wherever you want, but your magic still needs some means of reaching that location, subject to the limitations that magic otherwise has. If you can imagine a space and it’s location well enough, then you can designate it as the location of the array and send the magic on a path to reach it, but any inaccuracies in your mental model will drop the efficiency.

Lacer has noted that even he would need to draw out an array for many things because freecasting them would just be too inefficient.

And keep in mind that S has already done output distancing without the array itself being freecast, and it seems a lot of people could probably achieve this milestone even if they don’t become forecasters.

IMO the main benefits you get from freecasting are speed and flexibility, but with a drop in efficiency.

Yeah, I think this is a key factor in why there aren’t more free casters, in particular because I feel like the preparation that the high crowns put their children through is more likely to make freecasting actually harder for them, because they develop the mental ruts they get stuck in much earlier.

Lacer stated after S oral exam that most people encounter a mental block when trying to achieve output detachment. Its one of the biggest barriers to becoming a free caster.


Does distance become hindered by physical obstacles?

I believe so, but we don’t actually have any proof either way. As far as I’m aware, Azalea hasn’t mentioned anything about this… but this line of questioning would be great for the AMA next week.

I think that free casting uses different ways to transmit the energy - like divination tendrils do. There are hints that it’s related to power on the electromagnetic spectrum (image). S may be casting using wavelengths on the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum when she finally distanced her output.

If that’s the case, and if they know enough about this to weaponize it, it has some incredible possibilities. Converting anything to gamma radiation would mean it could get through nearly anything, even solid rock, traveling at the speed of light. If you have the power to spare, I am not sure of what the limits would actually be?

How far away can you cast?

Lacer suggested this has more to do with the clarity and force of Will than it does the distance, but to that, I’m really… not sure. Oof. That’s such a good question. I’d imagine you can cast further if you’re not free casting, unless you can somehow solidify the Word and Circle in your mind, just like it is in reality.

This raises another point: how much of S’s aptitude and ability to free cast has something to do with her perfect memory? She can remember the words on a page, an exact conversation or lecture - it’s a freaking superpower.

This seems like a good place to post what I was actually going to make a thread for which is: How do Sacrifices work with Freecasting.

Can you simply mentally define a sacrifice far away from you or is the Sacrifice in some way tied to your mind and location in a way the spell is not? Is it just as easy, harder, or easier to sacrifice something far away then it is to cast a line of force far away?

For example, say Lacer wanted to kill everyone in the room with Pendragon, could he have defined a “sacrifice” of their blood in their body (we’ve seen skin as a barrier and people’s own will as a barrier, so maybe this fails for other reasons, but would work with a powerful freecaster on a non Sorcerer)? Can he define all the light in the room as the Sacrifice to then start lighting people on fire from within/without, making it instantly dark not by casting a darkness spell, but merely by sacrificing the light? Could he define really particular sacrifices, like sacrificing the light in a specific (mobile?) location right around one guy while using that light to blast a laser at someone else?

Here are a very small number of true freecasting or near freecasting we’ve seen so far:

  1. Lacer waves his hand and the blackboard flips at oral examination. Perhaps he sacrifices the kinetic energy of his wave to get movement? Perhaps he has a beastcore under the table.

  2. Various classroom demonstrations by Lacer. He had a beast core enclosed in his hand as a circle for the Light modification day, but he often waves his hand and then chalk writes stuff, could be sacrificing kinetic energy again for moving chalk, an easy thing.

  3. Lacer free casts a line of force and the same air lens spell twice: No description of the sacrifice is made at all, could have a beast core on him unmentioned in his POV.

  4. S casts with a circle and nothing else her estoric shadow familiar spell and modifies it to absorb all eletromagnetic waves and seemingly general heat energy in the air/on a person as the sacrifice. The Sacrifice appears to be limited to her shadow, but that might be a function of the spell she’s casting which is very estoric. Also normally it sacrifices the heat and motion of her breath through the circle.

So my short theory is that you can totally sacrifice stuff across the room or even a mile away with sufficient will, including specific kinds of weird things, allowing all freecasting combat to functionally give you two kind of effects each spell, the Sacrifice which can be used for Battlefield Control or as an attack, and then the effect.

However, since people’s skin and their own will appear to in some ways naturally resist internal magic, and it seems like sacrificing all the light and heat in a large area would be more work for the Will then powering a spell with a strong beast core, most free casters are better off in immediate combat simply doing a single big spell from a beast core with more cute sacrifices being a last resort.

I also would not be surprised if Sacrificing something 1 mile away was way harder then Projecting an output a mile away, in terms of strain on the will.

Related ish question: How do sacrifices work for Witches? We know that the familiar does a lot of the spell array and or Will work to assist their Witch in casting (appropriately themed) spells, but do they also help with the Sacrifice? Or are witches rocking around with beast cores all the time?

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This is a lot of speculation on my part, but I think that probably depends a lot on the nature of the familiar and is probably a part of why witch magic tends to be so domain specific.

Like, take Siobhan’s mom’s familiar, Paimon for example. He’s probably the one we got the most detail about. He was a being from the plane of fire and spent most of his time as like a tiny little imp, but then when he needed to he could grow to the size of a giant in battle.

My interpretation of this is that he can basically generate a steady steam of elemental Fire energy that he uses to exist, but he is able to shrink himself in order to use up less of his energy and to store up some of it over time for emergencies in which he can use a lot more of it at once.

And then I presume that Miakoda could also draw upon his energy stores that he builds up over time to use her magic… But since it’s stored energy from one of the planes at work and not an ordinary physical phenomenon, this energy is much less efficient to try to convert into something else, so she then has a massive source available to her for sacrifices, but only so long as she is trying to keep using heat in some way.

But it also seems likely to me that other types of familiars might just have normal beast cores within themselves that they draw upon for their natural magic, and can lend access to their internal cores for use.

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The Familiar may not be so much a source of energy for sacrifice as they are a conduit for the magical effect. If a familiar supplies both conduit and sacrificial power, a witch seems like a more expeditious method to get to free casting.

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I’m here belatedly to talk a little bit about this since I didn’t get to answer your question in the AMA a couple weeks ago.

Now, this is a pretty complex set of questions and I don’t want to go too much into detail, because I feel like these mechanics are the kind of thing that are actually really rewarding to discover organically over the course of the story.

But I will say:

Free-casting is so awe-inspiring for a reason. One might indeed detach their output quite far away, but of course, as with all my magic, there are downsides and limitations. If we say that magic works by convincing reality that you have the right to make the rules…

When you’ve just drawn a Circle around an area, that’s a really good argument that you own that space and should be allowed to say what happens there.

The farther away you get, the more undefined your idea of a place, the less convincing your argument is. And indeed, space, matter, and also living things in between you and your desired destination can cause…problems. :slight_smile:

Distancing the output is much, much easier than distancing the Sacrifice, though the latter can be done too.

Witches can use traditional Sacrifices, but it’s also something their familars can help with, depending on their strength.

@Keid and @JKlarinet
You’ve got a good general idea of the limitations that come with witchcraft. They can act as a Conduit, and to some degree also a source of power. The latter is more dangerous for both parties.

Your fire familiar is pretty much not going to be able to help you cast a water-based spell, and while their magic can be used for non-elemental-aspected spells to some degree, it’s quite inefficient. Familiars come in a lot of different flavors, but witches give up some flexibility in variety in exchange for other benefits. (Of course, a witch can still technically grab a piece of celerium and some chalk and cast standard modern sorcery spells, too. As long as their familiar hasn’t forbidden it in their contract.)


Are there many familiars petty enough to ban regular Circle magic? [Redacted]

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I could see a smarter if greedy familiar banning modern sorcery so they can charge or otherwise make the witch reliant on them.

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