Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On the Nature of Natural Magic

So I've been miserable sick for going on 48 hours, so don't have a lot of minis progress to show you.

Hopefully that state won't last too long.  We'll see.

But I have noticed that the fever-addled brain is a very creative and productive brain.
Maybe it is making up for the fact that your body refuses to do anything but drain & ache.
But I think it may more likely be that this sick-misery-fever-head pounding is similar to what shamanic traditions have always understood: bring the body close to death & the brain in an altered state and you get some fun results. So you'll have to tell me if this idea I'll present is fun stuff or if it's the kind of odd weirdness that makes sense in a dream and nonsense when you wake up.  Speaking of, my illness-enhanced dream last night was awesome.. I was searching on hands & knees in a backyard garden and found a trail of snail-sized sauropods, looking like micro brontosaurs with spiky snail shells on their back, and their flesh was like that of slugs & snails.  Too cool.  Back on track..

I've mentioned I like to write game rules, and I've been working on rules for skirmish games that should work in any genre and I've been working on rules for 15mm element based unit warfare.  I hoped to come up with a magic system that would work in both, even though they use a different mechanic.  I think I have.

The Compass of Magic

So this is for the basic Magic System for miniatures combat.  It is aiming to be Beer & Pretzel with Interesting Options: a balance between simple & not overpowered and characterful.

I play tested a fantasy skirmish game recently which I liked a lot.  But the magic system was very simple. Fine for what it is, but I want something with more options.  However, something like the magic in Warhammer is too powerful and too much variety for the more simple games I want to make.  Plus there is no way it could work in a skirmish game, considering the power output of some spells. So I want balance but I also want something with flavor.

There will be other magic traditions added later, but to start with I will focus just on Natural Magic, which would be the basic magic and the other magic traditions as options.

Natural Magic dates back to the oldest shamanic roots of the prehistoric times. Sometimes this is called 'elemental magic' of the four elements, but this is an over-simplification as you will see.

Natural Magic is divided into 10 aspects of nature: 4 Major Aspects and 6 Minor Aspects, though in truth none are more powerful than another, but the Major Aspects pull the focus of those who use magic so that they are unable to stray far from the Major Aspect of Magic which guides them.

The Major Aspects of Magic are associated with the four cardinal directions:

Air: North
Fire: East
Earth: South
Water: West

Between Air and Fire there is Sand Magic
Between Fire and Earth there is Lava Magic
Between Earth and Water there is Mud Magic
Between Water and Air there is Ice Magic

Across the four polar opposites there are also adjacent intersectional magics:

At the intersection of Air and Earth there is Lightning Magic
At the intersection of Fire and Water there is Steam Magic

The intersectional magics while powerful can be extremely difficult and dangerous for the wielder.

There are many paths to walk for those who follow magic. Generally speaking, wielders of magic come in three power tiers. Some focus in one aspect of magic, others seek a wider breadth of knowledge.

In game terms, you can think of this as a level 1, 2 or 3 level magic caster.

Every magic caster of Natural Magic is centered in one of the ten Aspects of Magic.

A level 1 caster has but one option:
Initiate of (Aspect) : The Caster has 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.

A level 2 caster has a few options:

Adept of (Aspect): The caster has 1 level 2 spell in their chosen aspect.
Scholar of (Aspect): The caster has 2 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.
Journeyman of (Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect and 1 adjacent aspect.

A level 3 caster has many options:

Summoner of (Aspect)*: The caster has 1 level 3 spell of their chosen aspect.
* The exception is a level 3 caster of Steam is called an Artificer.
Grande Scholar of (Aspect): The caster has 1 level 2 and 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.
Grande Adept of (Aspect): The caster has 3 level 1 spells in the chosen aspect
Grande Transmuter of (Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 2 level 1 spells in their chosen aspect and 1 level 1 spell in an adjacent aspect.
Rogue Adept of (Aspect, Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 3 level 1 spells in three different but adjacent aspects.

When given titles, the first Aspect listed will always be the primary chosen aspect which if the caster is more powerful in one aspect than another, it will be in their primary aspect.

It must be noted that if choosing the path of the Rogue Adept the chosen Aspects must be adjacent Aspects but not include more than One Major Aspect, for the Cardinal Aspects are too diametrically opposed to be mastered by a mortal.


A level 1 caster might be an Initiate of Fire or an Initiate of Ice

A level 2 caster might be an Adept of Air or a Scholar of Lava, or a Journeyman of Mud and Water.

A level 3 caster might be a Summoner of Water, or a Summoner of Lightning .. or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Scholar of Ice .. or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Adept of Fire ...or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Transmuter of Steam and Fire ...or
A level 3 caster might be a Rogue Adept of Fire, Sand and Lava or Rogue Adept of Air, Lightning and Sand
but he could not be a Rogue Adept of Earth, Mud and Water because this includes two Major Aspects.


As you can see, a level 1 caster will always have 1 spell, a level 2 may have 2 level 1 spells or only 1 of a higher level, and a level 3 caster may have 3 (level 1), 2 (a level 2 & level1) or 1 (level 3)spell.


I have started compiling a spell list for each aspect.

Each Aspect will have 3 level 1 spells, 1 level 2 spell and 1 level 3 spell.  
The level 3 spell is always a summoning of an elemental, except in the case of Steam, which is a repair ability for a construct which the caster starts the game with. 

Examples of Spells: 


L1. Gust: target is slowed by 2” and has missile fire ranges halved.
L1. Guiding wind: target friendly may re-roll failed missile fire
L1. Protecting Breeze: Any successful missile hit against the caster must be re-rolled.

L2. Tornado: target is moved d6” in random direction.

L3. Summon Air Elemental
When the Elemental is not summoned the Summoner has +1 to all stats and a bonus to dispell


L1. Flametongue: Target's melee weapon damage is increased by 2.
L1. Gout of Flame: 6” range: missile attack +2
L1. Firestrike: 12” range: missle attack +1

L2. Rain of Fire: target friendly missile fire does double damage.

L3. Summon Elemental
When the Elemental is not summoned the Summoner has +1 to all stats and a bonus to dispell 

What do you think? 
Have any ideas for spells?  
I'd love to hear them.  I have almost 2/3 of the list full, but I may not keep them all. 

There will also be a counter-spell ability, which will have modifiers for level and for direct opposite caster aspects: casters of Fire versus Water have an easier time canceling each other's power than say, a caster of Ice versus Water. 

See the long odd stuff you get when all I can physically manage is typing instead of painting?

And as long as we're talking about the elements... like Earth, Wind & Fire, this is too fun to pass up...



Anne O'Leary said...

You know I don't now squat about gaming, but this does look like a good idea.

As for the high fever and hallucinations, it's natural, but it's not magic. Your body temperature goes up to kill the germ and the hallucinations are a way of telling you that if you don't do something soon, you will die. An evolutionary adaptation to save a species from extinction.

Now if your looking to hallucinate, I'd recommend shrooms :0)

Bill said...

I concur, shrooms are a better way.

I like the rules, my brain is all fired up with ideas, you know I'll get back to you.

Hobbits need bacon magic.
Level 2 spell:
"MMM" Smell of frying bacon wafts across the battle field. All units distracted on a 6 (roll for each unit seperatly or each troop if skirmish game).All Hobbits are immune to distraction and gain +1 attack, They're defending breakfast Dammit.

Francis Lee said...

Now that was good and what Anne said too!

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