14 December, 2014

Worldbuilding 101 - Part 29: I've got the Power

To give an example of how I’m seeing magic work in this system (and within this setting), I’ll use an example that many folks in the gaming world will know…Magic: the Gathering.

In Magic, everyone plays magical beings who draw magical energy from the lands they’ve travelled (and attuned to), using the magical energy they draw from these lands, they empower spells of different types. Different require different forms of energy that may be derived from different lands. Players randomly draw cards to form their hands, and put them into play. Lands can go into play once per turn, and lands may be activated (AKA tapped) to establish the mystic connection. Weak spells have a low power requirement and thus require only a few sources of energy to be tapped (perhaps as few as one), powerful spells might require quite a few sources of energy to be tapped.

Consider each “turn” in a game of Magic to be a scene in this game’s narrative. In this setting, casters are also able establish connections to lands, but they have many more things that they may use to derive their mystical energy. At any one time, a caster may be connected to a number of magical energy sources equal to their “connection” score (effectively they have this many “lands” in front of them). The caster has a range of spells available to them, but the highest amount of mystical energy they may ever channel from their sources is equal to their “conduit” score (they effectively can’t tap more mystical energy sources than this). The caster can automatically reduce the cost of one spell by fuelling it with their own spiritual energy (consider this to be a mana producing artefact that can be used once per turn in addition to any other lands/sources). When a scene ends, a caster refreshes their sources of mystic energy (though some may take a longer time to refresh or might be gone altogether). Unlike Magic, most magical effects in this setting are subtle, a little boost here, a curse there…it often looks coincidental or masked in the rituals of religion, the superstitions of folk-lore, or the technologies of the age.

It’s not an exact analogy, but it works well enough to give a general frame of reference.

Moving things forward, I’m thinking that the casters of the setting need something more to tie them into the storylines inherent within the setting. Casters are a natural part of the order of things, some may identify themselves as hermits in the wilderness, but others would be more inclined to take on roles of leadership and background roles to stabilise the society from which they come.

With this in mind, I’m looking to tie each of the magical causes to a specific ability. If a caster in the setting wants to become more capable with a specific connection, they’ll need to enhance their ability in the “physical world” of the setting. This is something I’ve see in White Wolf’s Classic World of Darkness, where a supernatural power might be regulated by a specific attribute + ability combination. Chill did something a bit similar, where different pre-written spells might rely on a certain skill check before they would activate their power. I’m not quite going that far, because this is for a LARP that is generally trait based and numberless. Instead, a character’s ability level (basic, intermediate, advanced), links to a specific connection type as its maximum possible rating.

Places of Power (Mysticism)
Resources (Investments)
Followers (Leadership)
Sacrifice (Endurance)
Timing (Academics)
Sanctuary (Sanctum)
Ritual (Ritual)
Familiar (Etiquette)
Power Generator (Crafts)
Risk (Larceny)

As I write this, I’m not so sure. It seems to tie things together, but there’s something about it that I’m just not feeling.

Anyway, on to things that I have been aiming toward since the beginning of this project.

The various schools of magic aren’t so much formal schools as they are disciplines of knowledge that a character can pick and choose from. One of the things I liked about the miniatures game Confrontation was the way spells are divided up into schools of magical discipline. There were dozens of disciplines, and many spells fell into two or three different categories. Each magic user began their mystic path with access to spells from a single school, and regardless of how many schools were listed on a specific spell card, as long as the magic user had at least one of them, they purchase the spell for use in game. More advanced magic users had access to the spells from two schools, masters had access to three, and the greatest mages had access to four different schools of spells. This meant that there were always a vast array of spells that could not be learnt by even the most advanced casters, but the range of spells that were available meant even the least adept magic users had some great options at their disposal.

Magic in that system also uses a system of magic crystals that function a bit like the lands in Magic. You release the power in the crystals to fuel effects, and at the end of a turn you might find the used crystals refreshed. In both Magic and Confrontation, there are spells with a variable “X” cost, you spend the right energy to activate the effect then any additional energy added into it will make the effect more powerful in some way. I like this, some of the basic spells available to each school of magic should incorporate something like this. For these basic abilities, each spell would cost a minimum of 1 mystical power, with one or two of them capable of accepting another point for added effect.

(Remember that we want magic to be something mysterious and not necessarily available to everyone, even if it is a natural part of the setting. In each case, a character will have to complete a mundane non-magical apprenticeship occupation step before they are inducted into the mysteries of magical power).

Hermetic Magic 101 (available to magical apprentices)
  (Mental Increase - Basic) (variable power benefit)
  (Increased Perception - Basic)
  (Seal Doors - Basic)
  (Damage - Basic) (variable power benefit)

Celestial Magic 101 (available to clerical disciples)
  (Social Increase - Basic) (variable power benefit)
  (Heal - Basic) (variable power benefit)
  (Summoning - Basic)
  (Communion - Basic)

Innate Magic 101 (available to awakened students)
  (Physical Increase - Basic) (variable power benefit)
  (Increased Perception - Basic)
  (Stealth - Basic)

  (Gain Story Clues - Basic)
Post a Comment