The Residuum Must Flow
Whether arcane or divine, the force known colloquially as “magic” is the single most powerful shaping force of the modern world. Great cities are raised with unmatched speed through the application of powerful rites, massive ships fly through the air, and luxuries of running water and constant light can easily be installed in any dwelling. Magic can be shaped for purposes destructive, as well as creative. Great arcanists wield unheard of power, able to scatter enemies before them with a wave of their hand. Divine rituals provide prescience to guide the leaders of soceity. The weapons of the world can be infused with great power, nearly enough to rival the ancient artifacts of Bael Turath and Arkhosia. With the discover of the lodestones, residuum has increased this power exponentially, but has also created a sort of balance. The fleets of Barony provide the means of exploration and transportation, granted solely by the power of the Imperial throne, who can control the Great Houses. The Great Houses, as a counterpoint, produce the residuum which fuels the throne and the airship alike. Arcanist buoy their power by buying safety for the Empire, creating items and weapons used to buy the allegiance of alien powers the commoner can scarcely understand.
As residuum began to flood in to the Empire, the tide of arcane knowledge and information began to grow. The power of the dust allowed research and development to occur at an unprecedented pace. While apprentices still search the wild for alchemical reagents, the Arcane Colleges and Orders have come to depend upon residuum for their experiments, which have become more advanced and convoluted as the Empire has grown wider reaching. Prior to the development of residuum mining in its most current incarnation, a wizard would have to consider various ethical, moral, and fiscal quandaries that, regardless of the solution, would slow magical study or halt it entirely. “Should I send a third apprentice to find rare earths that only collect upon the bases of ropers in the underdark?” “Is this experiment truly worth the death of a young red dragon, and how plausible is such an objective?” “Do I really wish to disenchant this flying carpet for a possibly fruitless endeavor?” Such questions are largely forgotten now, or answered with the alternative: paying a considerable sum to a Noble House in exchange for a considerable sum’s worth of residuum.
Many theorize the lodestones are tied to the very nature of the arcane: simply put, residuum is the essence of magic made physically manifest. This has led to significant philosophical debate amongst the intellectual elite. “Are we cannibalizing our power source?” “Will magic exist once the last lodestone has been mined?” “Are the leylines the magic field we tap into?” “Do the lodestones produce the leylines, or vice versa?” While such questions are impossible to answer in the short term and without further research, these points are considered by many to be of primary concern.