A nation's magical culture stems from its mundane culture. So when a player chooses the magical culture his nation will have, he is also choosing the slant of its mundane culture. This has a few major and many minor effects on the entire rest of the game.
Despite having different philosophies, world views, and goals, each culture has a progress tree derived from the same basic template to maintain balance.
Unlimited Availability Cultures
Hermeticists believe in a highly occult, pseudo-scientific description of reality. To them, the physical universe is but one facet of the One, and that there are many other facets. This is not to say there are more physical universes, but rather there are entities and realms of a non-physical nature.
Hermetic magic is highly ritualistic, requiring great care and preparation. It cannot be improvised except by the most talented and knowledgeable of practitioners.
The two main types of Hermetic magic are alchemy and goetia. Alchemy is the manipulation of the four elements (and ultimately the fifth element, or quintessence) to produce a desired effect. Goetia is the invocation of angels or evocation of demons in order to do the magician's work.
The third branch of Hermetic magic consists of various forms of divination. Subsets of this include astrology, tarot, geomancy, and scrying.
Scientists believe the universe is objective and my systematically eliminating humanity's subjective bias on its analysis of reality, they may obtain truth. Consequently, the "magic" of a scientist relies heavily on tools, though simpler "spells" may be performed from in depth knowledge of the many aspects of science.
Limited Availability Cultures
The Eleatics believe that the universe is an illusion and Truth can only be obtained by logical reasoning. They work their magic by rejecting the illusory multitude of reality and embracing the cosmic unity, recognizing that all things come from the One and all things are the One. All is One.
Ironically, because they believe nothing can be created or destroyed, half of their magic involves creation and destruction. Because they believe the sensory universe is an illusion, aspects of it may be added or removed through strength of will.
Also following from this core belief, the other half of their magic is mind manipulation. Most people bumble through life trusting their senses. By exploiting this trust, Eleatics may feed people's minds whatever information they choose, no matter its perceived truth.
- Unbroken history from 20,000 BCE to present.