Magical Ramblings

Threads of discussions on roleplaying bBoards.

Utility Magic

Magic is a born talent, not everyone can cast spells. Some races are more prone to it than others. For example, all Elves can cast spells and all Dwarves have spell-like abilities compared to Orcs (although they aren't a race as such) who have no magic, or Lizardmen who have it very rarely.

In the four basic kingdoms of the Human dominated area known the Western Shores, magic is dominated by the religion - which is a variation of the Norse Mythos. Each kingdom (Brondheim, Daria, Ambria and the Duchy of Irolo) has their own slight variations too, of course. The Brondheim version being the most primitive and closest to the original - the Ambrian being the most modernised.

However, I would like some church vs state friction and the Gods of the Aesir don't actually cover the more utilitarian areas that the state would want for magic.

So there may be a reason to have licensed magic users that are under the watchful eye of the church. Mainly hedge mages and administrators - and this would go towards all the useful government functions that I'd always imagined a High Fantasy setting would have magic in.

Market Towns and moneyers, for example. Counterfeiting would be a real problem in a world with magic. So much like the historical Dark Ages, coins will be regular minted, and re-minted to cut down on this problem (ie old coins become illegal tender). As the coins have a magical content as well - obviously a magical device will be needed to create them. This will probably be a standard item bought from the Dwarves for government use only (and heaven help any adventurer who gets one and attempts their own coin making scheme). The Moneyer in charge of the Mint machine (some suitably archaic phrase yet to be determined) would be a licensed practitioner, able to maintain the machine and check the coins validity. I'm going to go with coins being reminted at the rate of 5 old coins getting you 4 new coins. Also - the Minting machined DO NOT create anything - they just modify raw material.

Communication - another must. Couriers on horse or foot are great for keeping secrecy and transporting items - but magic as a form of fast communication fills out the other niche nicely. The communicators would be licensed magic users as well, and occasionally eavesdropped on by the church. The Archbishops (or Highcardinals or something) would have their own form of communicators that would include magical encryption (as well as normal).

Transport - No. It would be used so often for goods, it would drain the ambient power too much (I view moving physical objects as using much more energy than just moving information). Possibly used for VIPs or important missions.

Alchemist - Some suffrage. The church tolerates them mainly because they don't want to anger the Dwarves too much and the Dwarves like Alchemists. Any new device an Alchemist creates that isn't on the list of proscribed devices, must go to a review tribunal.

Now, as to the church-
Depending on the size of the community, and the number of churches/size of the churches within it, they may be assigned a miracle priest. A cleric with actual magical ability able to perform miracles within the guidelines of the church. Naturally miracles require donations or sacrifices.

The church does have the equivalent of withhunters, who are basically mage police (or more acurately clerics with magical abilities who police mages). They also have truthsayers - used as visiting magisters for towns and partitioned by sheriffs or governments.

Magical Energies

I haven't written the rules up yet, but basically to tap a ley line there are various considerations-
Clerics only tap lines of their god, but are better at it (it's a specialisation)
Mages can do any.
Elves are better than mages (in my campaign).

Distance to the line, and how close it is to the spell you want to cast. I envision an End Reserve and an Aid for some types of spells..
Dynamic I wouldn't keep track of in a campaign, just roll randomly if tapped to find out what level it's at.
Variable would depend on the religions - so I'd keep a calendar (ie there are more fireballs thrown around on the High Holy Day of the God of Fire for example).
Static are the easiest to book keep - they remain the same. And generally are used to power petty magics.

More on tapping magic

There can be a branch of learning (possibly restricted to Elves only) called metamagic, which deals with how magic functions.

It would have spells specifically geared to manipulating how ley lines are tapped - and stopping others from tapping them.

It would lead to interesting tactical magic combats, as various "supply lines" were cut off from the use of enemy magicians and they are forced to fall back on secondary lines, that are less appropriate or further away.

Possibly this could be seen as an ECM/ECCM combat (TCM- Tapping Counter Measures?)

Which also leads to the number of supportable users of a ley line. For each additional user of a particular line, its overall strength should diminish.

Currently I'm thinking of a table with different strengths of ley lines. You go up or down on the table according to season/festival, what type of ley line it is, and what type of user you are (religious, irreligious, Elven).

The general high level ley line will probably be-

END Reserve (100) 10pt, Recovery (10) 10pt, Ranged, Usuable simultaneously, x64 targets (Active cost 70), Slow Recovery 1/minute (-1 on recovery cost only), independent, reduced by range, IIF immobile, requires skill roll, no active point penalty & subject to skill vs skill (Real cost of 13) + 2D6 Aid 20pts, Variable effect (relevent faith/area) (Active cost 60), Linked, independent, reduced by range, IIF immobile, requires skill roll, no active point penalty & subject to skill vs skill (Real cost of 11)

(possibly a usable by others as well for the Aid, but not sure about that)

There is a caveat that all magic must use ambient energy if it wishes to be persistent (or any other constant), and to use your own character's endurance should be extra tiring (increased endurance)

Magical weather

I like the idea of magic being integral to life, but separate. This system also makes astral perception useful - and magically aware characters never have problems with navigation. Unless you introduce Mana Storms

Although If you do, I'd be inclined to make the mana weather system non-random, otherwise PC mages would regard magic as fickle. Things like God's intervening, or massive ritual magic, or the use of very powerful artifacts may cause tides or ripples. Possibly even temporary dead zones.

The opening of the Demon Rift caused the largest chaotic storm, with the massive extradimensional invasion. Lies were warped, broken, or moved. Effectively over-written, or 'invaded' by otherworldly magic, creating chaos at the edges (and, incidentally, wiping out any advantages the Elven empire had). Mind you, I kinda rewrote the Western Shores history - there was an alternate timeline where the PCs were Elven princes/heirs in a magic Elven golden age - their first mission they are tricked into doing by an evil grand-vizier-type was the retrieval of a magic item necessary for a ritual magic spell that effectively causes their ancestors to have never been born. They themselves wear devices that protect them from the item so they can retrieve it - which also incidentally protects them from the paradox of existing. So you have PCs of a different history, wandering around in the book's normal example history (1st ed Fantasy Hero that is) wearing devices that if removed, cause them to cease existing There were a number of ways to get around the devices eventually, but we didn't get that far. I'm not really sure why I went that route ten years ago - normally I find time trave quite abhorrent. Oh well...

The magic system is a little bit of "The Force" in Starwars, meets Animism, meets "Gaia" in Final Fantasy

Although one of the campaigns was heavily influenced by Kabbalism as well (too much Evangelian watching I guess)

Ley Line table

Endurance Reserve



End Rec Class Type Event Active Real Aid Active Real Active Real
200 5D6 Major Dynamic Artifact Destruction, Mass slaughter, Major sacrificial festivals, Natural disasters 131.25 25 5D6 150 29 281 54
150 5D6 Holy days 113.75 22 5D6 150 29 264 51
100 5D6 Normal 96.25 18 5D6 150 29 246 47
100 4D6 Minor Dynamic Artifact Destruction, Mass slaughter, Major sacrificial festivals, Natural disasters 84 16 4D6 120 23 204 39
50 4D6 Holy days 66.5 12 4D6 120 23 187 35
40 4D6 Normal 63 11 4D6 120 23 183 34
120 100 Major Variable Major Holy days and rituals, Manifestations 392 70 3D6 90 17 482 87
100 20 Holy days 105 20 3D6 90 17 195 37
80 10 Normal 63 12 3D6 90 17 153 29
60 50 Minor Variable Major Holy days and rituals, Manifestations 196 35 2D6 60 11 256 46
50 10 Holy days 52.5 10 2D6 60 11 113 21
40 5 Normal 31.5 6 2D6 60 11 92 17
40 40 Major Static Normal 154 27 1D6 30 6 184 33
20 20 Minor Static Normal 77 14 1D6 30 6 107 20

Major lines are between major temples, shrines or artifacts and usually represent the dominant religions and beliefs.

The variable recovery for Dynamic lines costs are based on average roll of a D6 (3.5)

Other Endurance Reserves

END Rec Name
As creature 0 Birth
As creature 0 Death
20 20 Sex
10 10 Worship
As artifact 0 Artifacts

Note - all artifacts should not have recoverable endurance reserves, but some may be able to recharge themselves if in proximity to an appropriate ley line

Normal race PCs should not have reserves either, unless they are magical beings of some sort. Recovery of the reserve is the same as artifacts.

The END of the "Other Endurance Reserves" can be used to recharge magical beings and artifacts - if it is appropriate (ie a vampire cannot recharge from births, an angel of the god of healing cannot recharge from deaths)

Recommended for ley-line using packages

Psych lim - can only use ley lines of their deity for magic.
Psych lim - Belief/faith/code of conduct/honour
Skills - Theology: equivalent to a magic skill roll for casting spells of their faith AND a tapping skill roll for accessing their deity's ley lines.

Psych lim - cannot recharge END reserves with worship (all Mages are athiests)
Skills - College/School: magic skill rolls for casting particular classes of spells
- Tap College/school:: tapping skill roll for using a type of ley line

Skills - Racial Magic: magic skill roll for a particular category of spells
- Tap Racial Magic: tapping skill roll for using a category of ley lines
e.g. Dark Elves - Evil, Sea Elves - Chaos, Wood Elves - Good, Elven Council - Order, High Elves - Entropy

The setting is pantheistic/pantheurgic for all the users of magic. So each of the three types listed above should have a main type of magic bought at 3/2 and if they want more it costs a larger amount for the secondary beliefs/colleges/racial magics. Note - High Elven Entropy covers all forms of magic.

This ties in to the pyramid structure of the Elven religion.

Next, I'll probably do a list of the tier structure of magic, and suggestions of which colleges/spells/gods belong to which branch of the Elven religion. This is my version of Western Shores though - so you would need your own for whatever campaign setting you are using.

If you make gods the source of power, rather than a manifestation of it, as it is in my world - you should rewrite clerics and make them more powerful than other types of magic user.

The Church, Mages and Elves

The church is powerful - afterall, the gods occasionally walk the earth, miracles happen, and prayer really does make a difference.

And both Mages and Elves are classed as 'soulless' So they should also have social limitations of being vilified.

However, the church is only powerful in the current age - the altered timeline with the previous "golden age of elves" had the Elven empire dominant, and while the church still hated them, they only whispered behind their backs

Post time-paradox, the elves are reduced a single city in the forest (Moondeep) and humanity has taken over. While powerful magic is one thing - a high birthrate and a willingness to explore at the hazard of dieing makes up for a lot...

Mages aren't organised into guilds in my world. And while I refer to colleges and schools of spells - that's only because that's the way it is organised in 1st ed Fantasy Hero and the Companion books. While magic is fairly common - it is very low powered (at least now it is - the Demon Cleft reduced the overall magic level).

Psychological Limitations

I'm in favour of psych lim :-

If a Mage finds faith, they become a cleric.
If a Cleric loses faith, they become a mage.

The magic is still there, but the method of obtaining changes. It allows for more character development, and epiphanies.

You can't actual "buy off" the psych lim disad, you can only change it from one to the other. As it's a point of world view that changes.

I toss the terms "mage" and "cleric" about a lot, but that's because everyone is familiar with the class structure of D&D. Personally, I much prefer skill based systems without defined classes. In this case it's "world view".

Possibly there could be a transition period of self-doubt where they have difficulty getting in touch with magic at all.

Change in faith is possible- either there could be a house rule that attempting an EGO roll means the character is "wavering on the edge" - which will be a GM warning. If they make more than a certain number of rolls, they have a "crisis of faith" and all magical powers acquire an activation roll (or possible fail entirely, and then over time, perhaps get an activation roll), before they get a skill roll, until the character completes a spiritual quest of some sort.

Organised magic

Each kingdom has different forms of magic use-

The human kingdoms vary between Church dominated, and tharl/shaman for the Noric-types.

The feline empire (Kartar) has mainly combat-oriented mage schools and a structured system.

The lizardman empire (Zylastra) has mainly Church dominated. But their church is quite different from the human's. On a subspecies note - the warmblooded lizards are more intelligent,and rule. The coldblooded are slaves (who, incidentally would grow up to be dragons if left in peace)..

Magical Perception and the weather

Mages SHOULD have some form of special sense to see magic. For Elves, it's a requirement. But for mages, and clerics it depends on how you access magic. Wild mages and the average cleric will just know that some places and times are better than others for magic/miracles. Those that can sense 'astral space' (still thinking of a better name), will know why, and can chart/navigate and map ley lines. Possibly also detect magical beings.

I could well imagine some of the more fundamentalist sub-religions using mana-sight to track down mages and their use of magic, as a form of witch-hunting.

Another note on range for ley lines - I've listed it as a power of the line itself, which doesn't account for the highly skilled mages being able to tap into lines at a greater distance.
This could be represented as a kind of clairsentience/telepresence. But I haven't worked out how, yet....

There is an alternative to mapping ley lines for campaigns as well - just use statistics. Most vilages will have a shrine of some sort depending on how devout they are. Most will have a graveyard, animals and people are born and die all the time. This should set an ambient mana level that will be good enough to power all persistent spells/miracles/magical traits. There are magic-null areas where this is not the case. These are areas hiding great artifacts or magical beings that consume the ambient mana - or areas that have been invaded by non-terrestrial mana (such as the area around the Daemon Cleft in WS). Some form of table should be designed for your campaign setting based on the following factors-