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Friday, January 30, 2015

Imagining Magic: Words

I hadn’t planned a follow-up to the post on magical gestures so soon, but Stefan Poag blogged on essentially the same topic yesterday: What if a magic-user loses a finger? And in the comments, we discussed the related question: What if someone cuts out a magic-user’s tongue? Or what about the Silence spell?

Again, it’s a matter of your concept of how magic works. I imagine the magician conjuring up magical forces and linking them to a specific mnemonic phrase/gesture combo as a trigger. The gesture is sort of a safe-guard, so that if the magician accidentally says “abracadabra” during a conversation, no spell is actually cast because there’s also a gesture required.

But if I’m serious about developing this experimental magic system, perhaps something like the adversity roll would be appropriate?

Spells must be spoken and a gesture made to direct the power. If unable to speak, the magician can attempt to cast the spell silently, but this requires a concentration roll:

  • 1d6 per spell level
  • halve spell level if only partially incapacitated
  • total <= Intelligence = success
  • otherwise, magician stands there and grimaces.

Perhaps there should be an “extreme failure” result as well, but I’m trying to think of one that isn’t too gimmicky.

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