A Useful Appendix
An appendix is a sometimes used portion near the back of a book. It is also an organ which has no apparent use or function. This article is about the second kind.
The Useful Appendix
There exists, in the belly of almost every human, an appendix. This is an organ which modern physicians tell us has no purpose. Not that it has not practical purpose or no observable purpose, but no purpose whatsoever. The concept of an organ with no purpose lies in stark contrast to both evolutionary theory and intelligent design (creationism). There should not be something which does nothing. People who have had their appendices removes live lives unnoticably different from those who have them their whole lives and the lives are not any different in their length.
Suppose that there is a use for the appendix, but humanity has forgotten (or possibly not learned) what that purpose is. What if the healthy appendix is an organ for the purpose of casting magic. The the days of legend, the source of magic within people was not known, or at minimum not revealed. A caster could not be sacrificed on the workbench of science and in any event, revealing that one cut open a person to determine what made his magic work would generally not have been considered the act of a sane person. Because magic does not (reliably) exist in our modern society, further research into the theory is not possible.
While the existance of the organ in most persons implies that everybody could possible wield magic, it does not imply that everybody could do it well. I have the same organs as an NFL quarterback, yet I cannot throw with much competance. Similarly, most people could, technically, cast spells, their range or results may be insufficient to actually yield any real world results. Again, due to the lack of magical knowledge in our modern society, this is impossible to test, and is is questionable whether the results would have any real value, beyond indicating the purpose of the appendix.
If, following the above arguments and suppositions, we assume that the appendix is an organ of magic, how does it function? Are magical energies channelled through it, like a sphinctre? Is it a sacrificial organ, usable for only a certain magnitude of magics with damage accruing after each use? Are the magics stored in it, like a bladder? Or does it create an enzyme allowing other organs such as the brain to work the magic?
If it were enzymatic, it is reasonable to assume that modern science could not only determine that the appendix was creating an enzyme, but also determine what that enzyme did. As there are no studies to detemine the use of enzymes created by the appendix, it can be reasonable assumed that there are none and this theory is moot.
The sphinctre approach is a little more reasonable, but opens questions such as where does the magic being allowed through come from? Quick answer, from other palnes of existance such as the elemental planes or realms such as faerie. A properly triained mage could control this organ to allow the proper amount and types of energies through. Specialization in certain types of magics would be much more likely, but it would be less likely that the mage would get to choose what he's good at. Rather the specialization would be whatever comes easiest, as that would be the route of most practice. This concept of the magical appendix is conducive to games such as GURPS where the mage becomes fatigued after a casting due to the effort of controlling that organ.
The analogy to a sacrificial organ is similar to Call of Cthulhu where a person has a given number of magic points. The number might increase over time, but in general only decreases as magics are perfomed. Folowing this, perhaps when the last of its magic is used, the appendix bursts. Following this theory, it is possible that otherworldly beings, such as star vampires) are able to drain from unwitting humans their magic points causing the appendix to burst for no apparent reason (which is why all appendix burst).
The remaining option, that of the bladder analogy is most suitable to D&D style of magic. It should be noted that while I refer to this as a bladder, it is possible to be more of a tissue engorgement rather than a fluid inflation. In any event the mage "studies" the magics he might wish to cast that day. In studying the mage is, in fact, casting the spells and storing their magical energy in his appendix for later release. As a mage becomes more experienced, his bladder is able to hold more, allowing more spells. Simultaneously, through practice, the mage is able to release the energies faster allowing for higher level spells.
In any event, the loss of the appendix should correlate to the loss of arcane spell casting. I suspect that this has come up in few RPG sessions. Divine spell ability should be unaffected, although there are plenty of ways to screw that up also. Additionally, other magic-casting creatures should also have an appendix which may or may not be used to augment or allow certain extra effects.
The author is an engineer with minimal medical knowledge. The above article was presented with little actual research and undead spellcasters throw a wrench into the works.