The Fifth Age of Magic has dawned, and it brings many changes to the world, not the least of which are the rise of the metahumans, who are sometimes called 'nephilim' or 'scions'. The current ranking system of magi and other wielders of supernatural power is based on Tarotic imagery.
The Suit of Swords is identified with the Element of Air; it signifies freedom and rapid change, as well as the mind, and all things associated with intellect, such as artifice or invention. Traditionally it is represents all things military, implying strength, power, and authority.
Mystics associated with Swords tend to be highly intelligent and creative thinkers, often making intuitive leaps of logic that others find hard to follow. This tendency for lateral thought can cause others to find them emotionally distant or out of touch with reality.
The Suit of Wands is identified with the Element of Fire; it signifies the future and the unknown. Traditionally it represents simplicity and nature, as well as hard work.
Mystics associated with Wands believe in hard work, and preparing for what is to come; the fable of the Ant, who works all summer to prepare for the harshness of winter often comes to mind. They are very practical, but also compassionate towards others. Those associated with Wands tend to break down problems to the most basic levels, preferring simple, expedient answers as opposed to complex ones.
Wands is also the suit of Divination, and it's powers can allow one to glimpse possible futures, or follow the threads of Fate. Despite this, Wands Mystics do not believe that one's Destiny is set in stone; the future is constantly in motion.
The Suit of Pentacles is identified with the Element of Earth; it signifies physicality and material wealth, and to all worldly matters in general.
Mystics associated with Pentacles believe in 'working smarter, not harder', constantly attempting to make things around them more efficient. A Pentacles mage might say something like “A strong castle must be built on a strong foundation”. Fortune favors the bold, but Pentacles magi are shrewd and calculating when it comes to their risk-taking. Their every action works to enrich themselves, no matter how noble or pure their intent may be.
Pentacles Magi are often strong in body, or possessed of great physical beauty, though they may lack stamina.
The Suit of Cups is identified with the Element of Water; and it is traditionally identified with the heart, as well as anything pertaining to emotions or feelings. Further, the Suit of Cups is associated with faith and spirituality.
Mystics associated with Cups believe in the power of the Divine, and are often imbued with great drive and zeal for life; Cups magi have great powers of recuperation, and are often gifted healers. They tend to be focused more on the unseen, invisible world, and are quick to believe in the influence of external forces.
Most Magi are ranked in multiple suits, or even all four. However, one suit is almost always the stronger than the others, which forms the strongest elements of their nature, as well as determining which magics they wield most effectively. One can be quite weak in a particular Suit, but it's rare not to be ranked in at least two of the four. Normally, Elements oppose one another, so that a magi associated with the Cups Arcana will have a weakness in the Wands Arcana, but this is not always the case.
Ace: this is a special rank. An Ace is wild talent; though their powers can be quite strong, they are not spellcasters in the traditional sense, but instead someone imbued with supernatural abilities associated with their suit. It is not uncommon for actual spellcasters to have such abilities, but they are included with their ranking.
Some metahumans have magic-based abilities, such as the second Purgatori, and thus are often granted an Ace rank.
Actual magic-users are ranked from 2 to 10, although, as noted, higher ratings may mix magic with powerful innate abilities. As a result, it is very difficult to say what a magi is capable, even if one divines or deduces their rank.
A mystic of rank 2 in a specific Arcana has a limited sense of the supernatural forces that surround them, and may learn how to wield minor spells associated with their Arcana, often known as 'cantrips'.
Each Arcana has a Page, Knight, Queen, and King associated with it. There can only be one individual of each rank, thus these are the four strongest wielders of that Arcana. Though it's technically possible to be both, say, a Page of Cups and a Knight of Pentacles, magi of the Fifth Age would never refer to you by anything other than your strongest title. Thus, such a hypothetical mystic would be simply known as the Knight of Pentacles.
There are, in addition to the rankings system, the 22 High or Major Arcana. The Major Arcana are, simply put, the 22 most influential supernatural entities in the world. This is not an indication of their power, per se, although a High Mage is often nothing to take lightly. Rather, it is an indication of their importance and impact upon the world of the Fifth Age. That having been said, being recognized as a High Mage often results in an increase in an individual magi's power.
In ancient times, it was believed that the 22 High Arcana were literally the Champions of Magic, and that certain individuals were actually ascending to serve Magic in some way, thus receiving new powers. This is believed to be the origin of the word 'Magister'. Whether or not this is actually the case in the Fifth Age is unknown (the power could result from new-found confidence instead).
The known Arcana are as follows:
0-The Fool: Johanna Constantine
1-The Magician: Zatanna Zatara
2-The High Priestess: ?
3-The Empress: Purgatori (Stefani Hughes)
4-The Emperor: ? (1)
5-The Hierophant: ?
6-The Lovers: (2)
7-The Chariot: ?
8-Justice: ? (3)
9-The Hermit: ?
10-The Wheel of Fortune: ?
12-The Hanged Man: ?
14-Temperance: Illyana Rasputina
15-The Devil: ? (5)
16-The Tower: ? (4)
17-The Star: ?
18-The Moon: Alena Scott
19-The Sun: ?
21-The World: ?
1: though he is not a magi in any sense of the word, Lex Luthor is heavily identified with this High Arcana, and divinations involving it generally seem to refer to him. It is unclear why this is so.
2: during the Fourth Age of Magic, Dr. Occult and Rose Psychic were considered to be The Lovers, and many magi still refer to them by this title, even though it is currently vacant.
3-4: during the Fourth Age, the Phantom Stranger was Justice, and The Spectre was The Tower. What roles these entities have taken in the Fifth Age is unclear; the Phantom Stranger has kept to the shadows, and the Spectre seems to have taken on a new role.
5: The current Devil is most likely Mephisto, but given his machinations prior to the beginning of the Fifth Age, Belasco has become a strong influence on the occult world.
Magic and Gender-
Traditionally, magic has long been divided into masculine (overt) and feminine (subtle) powers. Although older magi may remain bound to their old view of the occult world, the truth is, the most dramatic change of the Fifth Age was the fusion of masculine and feminine forces, reflecting the change in gender roles occuring in the world as a whole. Where before, transgendered and intersexed magi had difficulties wielding their powers, the situation has greatly changed; magi who transcend the antiquated notions of gender now have the most intuitive grasp of magic.
As an example, during the Fourth Age, mages such as Johanna Constantine could only master the basics of magics, as well as ritual incantations and invocations (such as summonings). In the Fifth Age, Illyana Rasputina, who was transformed into a male for many years, is the Sorceress Supreme, and has the greatest potential of any mystic (save, perhaps, for Alena Scott).
Thus, sorcerers may now wield subtle or dynamic forces regardless of gender, as appropriate to their personality.
Every magi tends to develop or adapt a signature style of casting. What focii, props, and other mystical aids they choose to wield. For example, the Zatara family has long favored the trappings of stage magic, as well as the unique 'reverse incantations' developed by their famous ancestor, Leonardo Da Vinci.
Style has become even more important in the Fifth Age. Previously, a mage's style could be seen more as a crutch; while you were strong when relying on such, you lacked versatility. Only the strongest mages could discard such things.
Now, however, attempting to wield magic without the trappings of your style results in your magic being much weaker than before. Thus hand waving, magic words, and the use of artifacts, wands, and the like, will become more prevalent, as magic has become more fickle in this regard.
However, it is now possible to gain versatility by mimicking the style of another mage (as Magik demonstrated when she defeated Solomon Grundy and Felix Faust, adopting Zatanna's techniques). As a result, Magi attuned to the Arcana of Pentacles are generally quite strong, where Magi attuned to the Arcana of Swords are the most versatile.
The Hermetic tradition seems to be the most prevalent in the Fifth Age, as most other traditions have adopted aspects of said style. There is also a resurgence in Covenant magic as well.
In ancient times, it was common to make a pact with a supernatural entity. By adhering to your end of the pact, you were granted supernatural blessings. This was a change from the previous shamanic tradition, which simply had one commune with whatever spirit or entity was best suited for the task at hand.
Now, magi were appearing with greater, albeit limited powers, due to a pact with a particular patron. This was the basis of all forms of faith magic, as mortal men made Covenants with Gods. It was possible to make more than one Covenant, but serving two masters (or more!) was often quite difficult, and rarely ended well.
The Sorcerer Balaam is credited with figuring out that one could cheat, however. Often, a Covenant only required that one perform certain actions to receive it's blessing. Thus, despite not making any vow to a particular entity, one could siphon powers from an extant Covenant by paying lip service to it!
While this had mixed results for Balaam, when he attempted to usurp the powers of the Abrahamic Covenant, he inspired a new breed of magi, one who figured out not only how to usurp the Covenants, but also how to circumvent them entirely (dispensing with the middleman, so to speak). For many years, Covenant magic became rare, save for the occasional Dark Sorcerer who was willing to bind themselves to a Demon, or the increasingly uncommon Faith Magician.
The Fifth Age, however, opens with a great resurgence in the practice, especially among low-ranked mystics seeking to increase their powers.
Also known as summoning, although physically calling an entity is not required. All you are really doing is calling on an entity not of this world, like a God or Demon. A Covenant is not required for this, but using Invocations can cause otherworldly beings to take heed of you. Invocations always call upon the entity by name and attribute.
In Marvel Comics, Doctor Strange is especially fond of Invocations, calling upon the 'Winds of Watoomb' and other powers. Weak magi may be incapable of Invocation without a Covenant, however, where mages of higher power can call upon the power by a simple act of will.