Magic spends mental and/or physical pools. Which ones will depend on what kind of mythos we decide on.
Spells: use as skill feats. You pay exp to learn a spell, it has requirements in terms of magic skills to learn.
Freeform magic. Player states an effect they want to acheive, GM has them make appropriate magic skill checks, we have some sort of guidlines that translate that skill result into effect and cost.
Proposed Magic System
Magical effects are created by pulling magical energy from somewhere (see Power Source) and shaping it in your mind into the effect you want. In order to shape magic, your mind needs to understand in some manner how to acheive the effect you want. Where this understanding comes from affects how you cast magic.
Sorcerers shape magic by working with a metaphor for magic. Different kinds of sorcerers use different metaphors and thus will be better at different things. Examples of metaphors include, but are not limited to
- Elemental Energy (Elementalist): They think of magic as flows of fire, air water and earth and shape spells combinations of these. They tend to be good at blasting type spells.
- Lifeforce (Druids): Druids think of magic as an energy that prevades all living things. Druids tend to be good at healing, growth, ...
- Music (Bards): Bards shape magic through musical. In some ways similar to the scientist wizard in that they try to get at the deeper nature of magic, but they do it through a lens of music that allows them to improvize more quickly, it does obscure some uses a wizard could see though. Bards could be good at mind magic since music interacts well with the human brain.
- Visual Arts?
- More suggestions?
Scorcerers are in general fairly good at doing magic quickly, and can do some very impressive things where their metaphor applies well, but can also be fairly limited because they can only see magic through this lens.
Sorcerers will tend to think magic actually works in the way their metaphor says it does, and often get in fights with other casters because they way they do magic seems wrong.
Sorcerers use artistic skills to do their magic
Monks learn how their bodies interact with magic naturally and don't so much consiously choose to draw upon magic as just have it pervade and aid what they do. The will often call magic Ki. Costs of this kind of magic will tend to be low, but the effects will be less flashy.
Monks use body skills to do their magic.
A cleric shapes magic with the aid of their god. This could either take the form of them channeling energy to their god and then getting back a formed spell, or divine guidance on how to structure it.
Clerics can often do some very complicated things that other mages cannot because they do not actually have to understand what they are doing, they just have to have faith that their god does. They tend to be less versatile though.
What skill do clerics use to cast magic? Do they instead just put exp into a "Devotion" pool that affects what magic they can do? Something else?
Shapes magic by actually understanding its nature. For them, a spell is kind of like some combination of a computer program, an engineering diagram, and a solution to a physics problem.
Scientist Wizards can do very little magic quickly because their method of casting requires careful understanding of many factors. However, they can acheive a broader range of effects than most other mages. This tends to make them good utility casters and buffers before combat, but they can't do hardly any magic in the heat of combat.
Wizards tend to be the best at counterspells and metamagic (magic affecting other magic) because they understand magic at a deeper level and can poke at other's spells in a way that is outside the abstraction the other uses and thus very hard for them to resist. Thus the one thing they can do effectively in combat is disrupt enemy mages.
Wizards use intellectual skills to cast their magic
Warlocks also try to understand magic at its basic level. However rather than thouroughly grocking a spell and having their mind consiously shape it like a wizard, warlocks take a shortcut and burn a pathway directly into their mind. This pathway allows a warlock to acheive magical effects quickly since they do not have to mentally structure the spell each time.
Burning pathways into ones mind is kind of harmful to your sanity, so warlocks usually only have a small number of different spells they can cast, but they tend to cast them well. Warlocks will also tend to be ranging from a bit quirky, to outright insane. Warlocks cannot use freeform magic.
Warlocks can potentially use magic that any other caster does if they can figure out how that person does it and burn the path into their mind. There might be clashes if the metaphors are drastically different.
Warlocks are probably mostly npc casters, since their advancement is a little weird and it tends to mess them up.
I am not sure how warlocks interact with the skill system.
Not completely decided on yet. Options: (All of these could have mental pool costs for magic in that doing this energy movement with your mind is hard mental work, options for physical cost are listed with them)
- Magical Energy is formed everywhere by some process. Mages gather it from their surroundings channel it through themselves to shape into spells.
- physical -he magic is kind of alien to your body and does harm to you as it goes through
- Living things have magic. Mages tap into their own (or possibly others) to
- Physical -drawing down your lifeforce
- Magic Energy comes from metabolising something specific you eat
- Metals would be mistborn, for example
- Magic energy is harvested from specific locations and stored in gems
- I have tried this, it leads to mages caring a lot about wealth because they need lots of gems, not sure if that is good or bad
Does magic break the second law of thermodynamics? Is magic some antientropic concentration of energy, or is it created by some other process but still obeying thermodynamics?
There will be a second tier magic skill in each first tier that has a magic type associated with it.
Spells will require some amount of ranks in both the magic specific skills, and in the more general skills.
For example a wizard spell might require 5 ranks in shape magic, 3 ranks in project magic, 5 ranks in math, and 2 ranks in biology. (These skills may not actually exist, I just said something as an example).
Restrictions on Magic
The biggest restriction on magic is that you have to be able to understand and in some manner visualize the effect you want to create. Different casters differ in how they do this understanding and visualization, but in order to shape magic you must have some conception of what you are trying to accomplish (with the possible exception of clerics).
- You can't alter (and especially fix) things you don't understand in some way
- No raising the dead - nobody understands life well enough to truely restore a person except maybe if they have only been dead for a short time.
- Undead may be possible, only a partial restore
- No raising the dead - nobody understands life well enough to truely restore a person except maybe if they have only been dead for a short time.
- Further away things are harder because you will tend to have a less clear perception of them, and there are more things in between you and them that you have to understand or they will degrade your projection
- Imaging something you have never seen is the hardest
- Remembering something you have seen is next
- Affecting something you can currently see is significantly easier
- Being able to touch/etc makes things even easer
- People can protect themselves from magic by purposfully introducing hard to understand things in their vicinity
- Kings may line the walls of their throne rooms/quarters with exotic metals
- Wearing strange armor
Sympathetic magic (affecting something based on possesing a part or likeness of it): No intrinsic sympathetic affect, but possing a part, doll will generally aid your understanding/visualization.
Physics Type Things:
- Conservation of energy: - magic is its own kind of energy, yo convert it to other forms, but it is still limited by how much magic energy is available
- Conservation of momentum: You push on something, you get pushed. Mages will tend to anchor themselves to something when they want to do big pushes. (Note: does not actually require mages to understand newton's second law, they will just have a rule of thumb: make sure you anchor yourself before pushing, or you will get flung).
In general so restriction of magic by ontological reductionist criteria. However, for some people (wizards) this may apply.
conservation laws that magic can break: Nothing proposed yet, please add proposals
Buying Magic Ranks
Buying ranks in the two magic first tiers is different than normal skills. Your aptitude modifier is not (10+aptitude)/
The various "schools" of magic, which allow you to accomplish various action verbs. From the German for "changes."
- Hold -- Keep something nearby from leaving, moving, or dissipating. "I left my house seven hours ago / and I can still see my house from here!"
- Summon -- Bring something that already exists to your present location. "Wow, you don't see too many polar bears in Jamaica."
- Create -- Cause a new specific example of an old idea to exist, ex nihilo. "That pine tree wasn't here a minute ago!"
- Increase -- Cause something that already exists near you to grow, strengthen, or spread. "Wait a minute, how are there more Oreos now than when I started?"
- Repel -- Force something nearby to leave, move, or dissipate. "Just turn around now / 'cause you're not welcome anymore"
- Banish -- Cause something local that is out of its proper place to return to its ordinary habitat. "Stupid ball! Go to your home! Don't you want to go to your home??"
- Destroy -- Cause a specific example of something to cease existing. "I could have sworn there was a pine tree here a minute ago..."
- Decrease -- Cause something that already exists near you to shrink, weaken, or contract. "Wow, that's some really bad acne. Have you tried Abjuration?"
- Accelerate -- Cause something to start traveling at higher speeds than before (regardless of velocity)
- Decelerate -- Cause something to start traveling at slower speeds than before (regardless of velocity)
- Transfer -- Move an object instantly from one known location to another known location
- Phase -- Shift a person or object onto another plane or aspect of existence, without changing its physical location.
- Reshape -- Cause something to take on a different shape of roughly the same size while retaining its essential properties. "Have you been working out?"
- Reorganize -- Cause something's internal parts to take on a different relationship to each other while retaining the same outward appearance. "That's funny; the gas tank doesn't usually feed directly into the air conditioner on a Honda..."
- Reconstitute -- Change the material(s) out of which something is made without changing its configuration or shape. "Why is that yellow rubber duckie made of solid marble?"
- Disguise -- Cause something to take on the illusion of looking like something else. "Doop de doop de doo; definitely no plot-central MacGuffin objects here; just a big glowing red...fire hydrant. Yup, looks just like an epic-level masterwork fire hyrdrant."
The stuff of which the magical universe is made; suitable nouns upon which your magic can work.
- Aether -- the substance upon which all other objects are hung and threaded. Not otherwise automatically imbued with mystic powers.
- Vitae -- the life force; its presence makes animals animate, and its absence makes rocks stay put.
- Time -- much like time in our own world; it's still mysterious enough that it can be dumped right into fantasy as-is.
- Death -- the power that carries souls to the next world(s); its presence makes humans rest in peace, and its absence makes zombies and mummies.
- Number -- oneness, twoness, three-y-ness, etc.
- Angle -- pentagoniness, acuteness, etc.
- Spheres -- incudes both the physical shape of a sphere and the tendency toward perfect symmetry
- Infinity -- includes both the physical shape of a line and the tendency to continue eternally
- Personality -- predispositions, tendencies, ways of approaching life
- Thought -- opinions, logic, propositional content
- Feeling -- moods, attitudes, emotions
- Impressions -- sense perception and/or spiritual awareness -- the process and the phenomena, not the content they pick up on
Adjectives and adverbs? Skills that affect how you or others perform their magic.
- Runes -- gain additional magic power based on a mystically powerful alphabet
- Incense -- gain additional magic power based on aromatics, chemicals, or local auras
- Chants -- gain additional magic power based on rhythms, dances, or repetition "How many ticks will I spend to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? As many as it takes."
- Harmonics -- gain additional magic power based on melody, concordances, or strength in numbers "How many Level 1 Mages does it take to cast Earthshatter? I don't know, but we've got at least that many."
- Counterspell -- cause a spell that is being cast to fizzle and the mana, charges, etc. invested in the spell to harmlessly return to the original caster
- Divert -- cause a spell to affect a different number and/or kind of objects than the original caster intended
- Neuter -- strip a spell of one of its aspects without utterly destroying it, rendering it, e.g., elementless, or motionless.
- Disrupt -- cause a spell still being prepared to go awry or otherwise have absurd or ironic consequences
- Scripture -- reduce magical expenditures of Focus and Stamina based on adherence to a sacred text
- Sacrifice -- cast spells that would normally be too difficult or complex based on consuming a sacred animal or object
- Prayer -- increase resistance to others' spells based on the sincerity of an appeal to some kind of deity
- Oracle -- gain information about others' spells based on the ability to transcend one's narrow personal concerns
Another Idea by Tom
Here is another magic skill tree Jeff and I wrote up a while ago. It is probably bigger than it needs to be (having a full 4 first tier magic skills), and possibly too universal (the game we played with it we found that magic could do anything, possibly to too great of a degree)
- Change the Rules
[** Probability] [*** Penetrate Uncertanty (Farseeing)] [*** Resolve Uncertanty (Luck)]
- Flesh Wounds
- Structural (crystal)
What Thomas Is Using
After some consideration of what systems would work best for the setting I am writing, I have ended up selecting Tom's first proposal (with the five different types of casters), with some modification.
Metaphorics will work pretty much as proposed, though having them use Social instead of Artistic will be considered after playtesting.
Monks will include psions. In-universe, they work more or less the same way, what monks do with their bodies, psions do with their minds. Normally they cannot do flashy stuff, but they can sometimes learn esoteric techniques that allow some flashy effects. Will often do stuff with crystals.
Divine magic will exist in some form or other, but I don't know what form. For in-universe reasons, very few PCs will be divine casters, so this has low priority.
Arcane magic will work pretty much as described.
Warlock magic will be called 'Inherent' and will include a catch-all of stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere. There will be a reasonably developed system for PCs to use it, but it will be weird. It will mostly not interact with skills, and will almost entirely be specific spells bought with XP. It will be possible to learn spells that allow very basic freeform magic not keyed to any skills, but this will be limited and the effects almost entirely at the discretion of the GM.
Priorities are currently Inherent (which will be used for some racial powers as well), and Monk/Psion, which is the kind of magic 90% of the PCs will use for games in the coming year or so.