As the name suggests, Pyromancy is magic involving fire. Gaming has a long history of using the word Pyromancy to mean completely the wrong type of magic involving fire (see below), and you'll just have to decide which interpretation works best for your campaign.
Lots of games use Pyromancy to mean magical control over fire, primarily as a weapon. See also:
- Boom Stick
- Elemental Powers
- Greek Fire
- Heat (energy)
- Magic and Powers
- Psychic Powers
- Wall of Whatever
Technically and historically, Pyromancy is actually a form of divination. Wisdom, knowledge, or prophecy is derived by staring into a fire, and interpreting the shapes. You might use a candle, a burnt offering, a campfire, etc. This form of divination was used in Ancient Greece, and in China as far back as the neolithic age. Scrying by peering into a fire by way of a speculum may also count. Fire worship - or pyrolatry - may convert this into a weird form of theurgy.
According to Wikipedia, there are several variations on it:
- Alomancy, divination by salt, one type of which involves casting salt into a fire
- Botanomancy, divination by burning plants
- Capnomancy, divination by smoke; light, thin smoke that rose straight up was a good omen; otherwise, a bad one.
- Causinomancy, divination by burning (non-specific as to the object burned)
- Daphnomancy (also, Empyromancy), divination by burning laurel leaves
- Osteomancy, divination using bones, one type of which involves heating to produce cracks
- Plastromancy, divination using turtle plastrons; in China, this was done by heating pits carved into them.
- Scapulimancy, divination by scapulae; in Asia and North America, this was done pyromantically.
- Sideromancy, divination by burning straw with an iron
Then there's also the science of Spectroscopy which includes analyzing a material by burning it and seeing what colors are produced. It really is science, but it's procedure is the type of thing an alchemist would find fascinating.
A Pyromancer is a Wizard or Diviner who specializes in Pyromancy. The term is often used to refer to a Mage whose powers might more accurately be defined as fire-based Elementalism. They may also benefit from some overlap with Alchemy, since it uses a furnace.
If your setting includes Color Coded Wizardry, chances are the Pyromancer's color is Red or Orange. His family Heraldry, should he possess any, will likely have a flame motif. That is, assuming magic is legal/acceptable, and he's comfortable with everyone knowing his specialty.
A Pyromantic Ritual
An example of a pyromantic ritual can be found in Hippolytus of Rome's Refutation Of All Heresies. In book 4, chapter 35, Hippolytus records that the practitioners of a particular mystery cult conduct a ritual involving a cauldron with a clever crystal false bottom. Water in the cauldron reflects an image from the ceiling, with the added sculptural details from the crystal bottom, making it look like the cauldron somehow magically reflects an image that isn't there. The ritual is actually akin to a Confidence Game. Chemicals have been previously applied to the ceiling to make, upon command, another flaming image appear on the ceiling this time, a firey "reflection" of the crystal "reflection" from the cauldron, this time in the shape of a demon riding through the air. In the midst of it there's some poetic invocations to Hecate and Mormo.
Exactly how Hippolytus gained access to such a ritual, and was able to glean the tricks that explain away the magic of the Hecate-worshiping Pyromancers isn't completely clear from the fragments of the book that survived the ages (or at least not from the parts I've read so far). As a result, I wouldn't rule out the notion of bias in his analysis, nor ruling out that he may have engaged in creative reverse-engineering or made up the solution. Not that I'm trying to say Ancient Roman Pyromancy was true or accurate, either, I'm just pointing out that he clearly had an axe to grind, an agenda to cement, and he predated the modern scientific method. Just sayin'.
Game and Story Use
- With it's ancient history, this form of divination might show up in a game with Cavemen.
- Lots of flavor and verisimilitude packed into those divination variations.
- Seems like everybody likes to blow stuff up.
- For additional ideas, see the -mancy page.
- In a medieval or Renaissance Era campaign, an alchemist might be using a form of spectroscopy to analyze a sample of material, but he would cloak the process with magical pyromantic ritual.
- Actually, noting the historical difficulties in telling various forms of "salt" apart, spectroscopy in the guise of alomancy might be surprisingly helpful - for example the ability to tell sodium and potassium nitrates apart by the difference between the yellow-orange flame from one and the purple flame from the other.
- The ritual mentioned by Hippolytus might act as a form of invocation or theurgy, creating an image and calling something to inhabit it.
- It might also be a coded myth of some kind.