rockym93 dot net

archive · tags · feed

Worldbuilding: Magic

31 December 201209:52AMworldbuilding

I've been thinking about this for almost a week now, and I still haven't decided what to replace spell slots with. As far as I can tell, I've got a few options:

I suppose I should probably figure out what it is that I dislike about spell slot casting, and try to fix that.

Firstly, it's slow. There are too many spells to choose from, too many levels of spells, and too many slots to fill. Especially for prepared casters. It just takes frickin' ages.

Secondly, it's not very interesting. D&D; spells start off boring ("I cast acid splash. Again. For one point of damage.") and finish off overpowered ("Disintegrate. Encounter over."). And flavour wise, it's just all over the place.

Thirdly, It's inflexible. There's not a lot of ways to use magic creatively. Like, you can use Magic Missile to Kill Ten Rats, but you can't use it to batter down a door. (I know that's a bad example.) I like having defined spells, because there's a lot of potential for fun names and flavour. But there needs to be a way to adapt them to other situations.

Furthermore- okay, you know what? This is getting me nowhere. What I need to set out instead is what I do want from a magic system.

I've been getting bogged down in mechanics for a system I'm not even sure I'll use. What really matters, because this is a campaign setting and not a ruleset, it has to be fluffy. The right kind of fluffy.

The Things A Mage Can Do.

(and I'm using the word mage here to mean any magic-user, not ancient Mesopotamian prophet, or that one annoying class in Pathfinder)

A mage should be versatile. Magic, itself, should be versatile. A mage should be able to freeze a door closed as easily as they freeze a giant angry praying mantis' mandibles together. That's why you bring a mage with you. Above all else, they should be good at solving problems.

Despite - or maybe because - of that, a mage should be limited. A limited repertoire, with limits to the extent of its application. Out of universe, it's always more fun to play around limitations. And in-universe, you should at least pay lip service to conservation of energy.

Related again - a mage should have to pay for his power. Casting should be physically and/or mentally taxing, or require some obvious outside magic source, or require a great deal of preparation. Or all of the above.

A mage should also be thematically consistent, in terms of their flavour. They shouldn't be some kind of magical kitchen sink. They should be a Pyromancer, or an Illusionist, or an Ice Wizard. And their powers, both flavour-wise and mechanically, should mesh with that theme.

Above all else, a mage should be cool. Cool and mysterious and a little bit dangerous.

Man, I haven't even scratched the surface here, these are like, vague general principles at best. I might have to come back to this one.

read the comments

< Worldbuilding: Goblins Worldbuilding: Bird People? >