The SAGA universe is the same as ours but for the existence of a chemical element called Mithril. Mithril is a metal that occurs in the molten cores of magical planets. There is it causes the spontaneous generation of high-energy sub-atomic particles called maeons. These particles are generated in pairs. One of them is a negative maeon, the other is a positive maeon. They fly off in opposite directions at the speed of light. They pass through the core of the planet, through the mantle, through the crust and out into space. Several ligh. The continuous passage of such particles through the surface of a planet, and off into space, is called the planet's maeon wind. The strength of the wind is measured in maeons per square meter per second.
Protons stick together to form the nuclei of chemical matter atoms. Maeons stick together to form the nuclei of magical matter. Positive maeons join together to form spirit matter atoms. Negative maeons stick together to form conjured matter atoms. Mixtures of the two are also possible, as are mixtures of chemical and magical matter. The nucleus of a chemical atom has electrons orbiting it. The electrons and the nucleus together make up the atom. But the nucleus of a magical matter atom has nothing orbiting it. The atom is made up entirely of the nucleus. Pure spirit matter contains only positive maeons, and pure conjured matter contains only negative maeons.
Spirit matter is so-called because it is the vital constituent of things called spirits. Conjured matter is so-called because it is easy for wizards and sorcerers to create out of the maeon wind, or conjure. The physical properties of maeons and maeon materials are responsible for all that is magical in SAGA's universe.
Chemical atoms are many times smaller than spirit atoms. Spirit atoms are many times smaller than conjured atoms. Magical matter has negligible mass compared to chemical matter. Spirit matter can be colorful and strong. It can be liquid or solid. But it is never more dense than air. It does, however, have weight, because the core of a magical planet always has a negative magical charge, and so attracts spirit matter.
Pure conjured matter can be colored or transparent. It does not bend light, so if it is transparent, it is invisible. It is always solid, but it can have the consistency of foam. It is even less dense than spirit matter. Instead of being attracted by the negative charge of the planet, it is repelled by it, and so has negative weight.
There are three ways creatures can generate magical phenomena with their minds: sorcery, psionics, and wizardry. In each case, neurons generate electrical fields that interact with a maeon wind. In sorcery, the spinal cord and motor control portions of the brain generate the required electrical fields as the sorcerer sings, chants, dances, or jestures. A sorcerer might make spirit matter furniture. He chants as he creates and shapes the gray, sparkling material. He may have a spiritual belief in the power of chanting and his state of mind. Or he may know perfectly well what is occuring in the base of his brain. In psionics, a genetically-engineered neural network within the mind generates the required electrical fields automatically. The psionic may be unaware of her own ability, so that it occurs at random, or she may have control over it, so that it feels as if exercising the ability is as natural as moving her arm. In wizardry, synaptic patterns are implanted in the brain by the wizard when he experiences certain sights and sounds in a specific order. Later, the wizard signals the neurons whose synapses have been affected and they generate the required electrical fields to initiate a magical effect.
Sorcery is an art, psionics is an inherited ability, and wizardry is a science. Wizards train for years to aquire their abilities. They are fully aware of what they are doing, and of the science upon which it is founded. Sorcerers train for decates to acquire their abilities, and may have no understanding of the physical phenomena that underpin their powers. Psionics have their power from birth, although they may need to practice using it in the same way that we must practice to learn to throw and catch a ball.
One of the most prominent magical phenomena is the space bridge. A space bridge consists of two flat surfaces, of identical size and shape, such that, when a sub-atomic particle, or a photon, or a chemical atom passes through one surface, it emerges through the other. The simplest space bridges are those through which only sub-atomic particles, photons, and chemical atoms (but not molecules) will pass through without damaged. These bridges are called atomic, or class one, bridges. Chemical matter is atomized when it passes through an atomic bridge. Spirit matter and conjured matter is broken down into its constituent maeons.
A molecular, or class two, bridge, is more difficult to make than a molecular bridge. Chemical molecules pass through a molecular bridge without damage, but not spirit matter or conjured matter. A spirit, or class three, bridge is still more difficult to make. Both chemical and spirit matter will pass through a spirit bridge without damage, but not conjured matter. The conjured, or class four, bridge allows all types of matter to pass through without damage, and is by far the most difficult to make.
In the Celesti Sector, sorcerers, psionics, and wizards can all make atomic bridges. Of all the magic-using creatures, only the very occasional sorcerer can make molecular bridges, and no creature has ever made a spirit bridge. Molecular and higher class bridges are made by daemons (the experts), gods (competent), demi-gods (capable), and demons (occasionally capable). Travel through a molecular or spirit bridge is called gating. The gods can gate armies through bridges, and supply them also. This ability gives them the advantage in any conflict with any opponent that lack the ability to gate. Modern wizards, however, believe they are on the verge of learning how to make molecular bridges, and if they do so, the discovery will upset the balance of power between gods and sapiens.
If one half of a space bridge remains stationary while the other is taken on a high-speed journey into space and back again, the half that traveled will be younger than the half that remained stationary, as predicted by special and general relativity. Stepping through the traveled half, one emerges from the stationary half at an earlier time. Thus space bridges can be used to make a time machine.
It is not possible to use a time machine to go back in time and change the course of events. Outrageous coincidence is often the means by which the harmony of cause and effect is maintained in the face of such endeavors by time travelers. Experiencing these coincidences is likely to drive rational creatures insane. Those who value their sanity, therefore, tend to avoid time travel altogether. Inter-stellar explorers, however, such as daemons, have no choice but to confront the paradoxes of time travel, since they carry with them, and make use of, many time-shifted space bridges.
Tiny, short-lived, space bridges appear continuously in a maeon wind. During their short lifetimes, these space tunnels experience dramatically asymmetric acceleration, and so become tiny, short-lived time machines. Negative maeons passing through the a biological organism interact with both its nervous system and the omnipresent space tunnels. A few seconds before a shocking sensation, an organism feels a faint forewarning of it. The prescient sensation grows stronger until the moment of the shock.
Prescient sensations are the basis of prescience. Prescience allows adventurers to attain an invulnerability that would be impossible on a non-magical planet. An experienced adventurer avoids a shot in the dark by ducking at the right time. If he did not duck, he would get a prescient sensation, which would make him duck, and then he would never be shot, so he would not receive the sensation. He ducks for some other reason. Maybe he wants to itch his knee, and the arrow whistles over his head. The self-consistency of cause and effect are maintained by the occurrence of a simple coincidence, however unlikely.
Another prominent effect of space tunnels is that they dissipate high-pressure gasses in enclosed chambers. You cannot get a steam engine or a gun to work on the surface of a magical world. Beneath the surface, the space tunnels become less common. With a kilometer or two or rock above you, there are hardly any tunnels at all. Not only can you make guns and engines, you have no prescience either.
Maeons interact with the weak electrical signals in the nerves of biological creatures. They also interact with stronger signals, such as those in an electric motor or generator. These interactions can be violent, and they are always disruptive. So electric motors and circuits don't work anywhere on magical worlds, not even deep beneath the ground.