Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Spells, Spellcrafting and Components

This is more of an overview as Andreas raised some thoughts on the subject and I wanted to expand on my ideas, without cluttering his blog discussion.

For World-Builders

First, sorry for posting this in World-builders, not exactly the right group for this, but then I thought, ok, If we preface some points, its still pertinent. So:
Where I say 'you' the player, switch to 'mages in this world', if I'm talking about specific gaming stats, then think of instead as your notes for your characters in your world, I think its important to understand that in your world, that you created, its just as important that you follow your own rules, your canon, your defined reality, because if you break it, your readers (and for gaming, players) are going to break their sense of disbelief, and ruin the experience.


My System is fairly robust, As you might know from reading the blog so far, I have included almost every single system that existed in the 90's and amalgamated, I've added all possible styles & types from books that I've read over the last 30 years, Every player who asks: Do you know X-system, or such and such style from this Author, and I say, ok.. describe it.. and the answer is always. Yes that very possible and doable.. So I think its rather robust because no-one has been able to break it yet.

Possibly after writing this, and you read it, you may find a way to break it, upon which the answer would most likely be: I must not have made it clear in my post.. I'll try and clear that up for you.

Spell Casting

When you cast a spell, Depending on how you learnt it, you wave your arms, and/or use ingrediants and/or speak special words and/or commune with nature, demons, elements or 
such and invoke the powers to make the magic happen. 

In Game terms, I use Magic Points.. but I also have sub points called Exhaustion, Persistence, Torpor, Regeneration Rate and Burnout. All Spells have a value assigned to them, typically a Magic Point cost, but any spell can include E, P, T or even Reg as cost too. On top of that, or instead of it, Points can be reduced in their costs, based on external factors, such as gestures, words, components, lost knowledges or gifted aspects from nature, demons, elements or other.. (more on these points later)

Confused? Lets Look at some examples:
Dweguri, Dark Elf Mage, was taught to cast Cave Lights using glow mushrooms, but, if need be, he can summon the inner strength to cast the spell from his magic alone.
Cave Lights, Lvl 1: Magic Points: 3, Component: Glow Mushrooms: Mp reduction 3mp, increases the glow of all cave mould and surfaces by 2 light levels.

NiWalke, Fire Mage, uses fireball as his go-to spell.. he learnt it in the college of fire, and understands its intricate workings, to the point where he can cast small, medium or large fireballs, and throw them great distances on occasion. NiWalke finds himself drained of much of his magic, but facing off against an Ogre, he spots some sulphur on the ground, remembering back to his college years, he manages to scrape together two handfuls of the powder, just in time to throw a great flame into the beast, enough to aid his companions to escape
Fireball (College of Fire, lvl 4: 10 Magic Points Base + 1 Exhaustion: Component: Sulphur -4mp per handful, Coaldust - 3mp per handful) NiWalke, studied Fireball x3 times, reducing base MP to 8 and -2 exhaustion & -2 Torpor) 

While in both cases, I'm using material components, dependant on the school, the culture, the style of your game, any one of these could be replaced with other 'cost reducers'

Spell Crafting

In All Spells, There are basic structures of logic, Whats the basis of the spell, what does it do, outside the normal physical world, then all the nitty gritty: how far will the spell go, whats it do, who/what does it do it to, how fast is it, how hard is it to dodge/resist/unweave.

Then look at Who is crafting this spell. If its a college of magic who have the resources to study this spell and its types, groups, styles, schools, effects, over and over to improve it, get the components right, or more effective, vs if its a Hermit in the woods, who devoted their life to one single spell in one direction.

This usually results in a specific spell value.

Except from my Excel Character Sheet
The Magic Points are related to how much of the physics of the world are being bent to make it happen. Exhaustion is how much power drain the caster is going to feel, (persistance is how much Exhaustion this particular player/character has in store, before it begins to affect him), Torpor is his limit to any given spells power.. a maximum level if you will, and Regeneration, relates to how many magic points he'll gain back after a full nights rest.

Components in Play

So, while you can and probably should use components in some form, it can be time consuming, both for the character, in terms of actions and initiative to get out the components, or prepare them or make them happen, and in battle, you only ever care about MP & time.. Most spells are 'built' with the concept of casting in 1 combat round.. well.. Battle magic is, 

Spells which are far less likely to be used in the heat of battle, will be cast over minutes or even hours.. the better spells, costing hundreds or even thousands of magic points to cast correctly.. impossible in a single round... But.. in a ritualistic manner, reducing the cost to cast (each Combat round is considered a 'component' to reduce MP costs), using candles, materials, and/or including other magi or natively magical creatures, such as fey, demon, elementals or other.. can reduce this 'cost' to a realistic level.. explaining 90% of fantasy authors usage.
I won't go into it deeply, but, using someone elses magic, freely or against their will, your or their blood, or life essence as a component to spell casting, and sacrifice, either willing or otherwise are other aspects of 'components'

So, At the end of the day.. A player decides during character creation, did he get his/her magic from a school, some cult or group, a hermit or is self taught.. (from left to right, with increasing difficulty to create your character, but more freedom of choice) which obviously affects which spells they start with, how they have access to new spells as play progresses but most importantly.. were they taught to cast spells with components.. or just plain magic.

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