Continuing to describe the magical power sources… You may notice that the power sources are arranged in a particular order, starting with the most abstract, remote, and impersonal (the celestial spheres) and becoming more concrete and personal down the line. The next up is Words of Power, which embody cosmic forces, but aren’t the forces themselves. Or, to think of it another way: words of power are backdoor passwords or cheat codes that enable the magician to tap into primordial forces of creation.
Spellbooks for a pure words of power magic system would describe several words, their precise pronunciation, and what they affect, as well as how they interact. It might include meditations on the concepts lurking behind each word, with commentaries by various famous wizards arguing with each other over time about the true meaning of it all, and the individual magic-user’s own thoughts scribbled in the margins.
For the short version of words of power, spell prep takes ten minutes per spell level. This is can be per spell, or if the GM prefers, magicians prep all 1st level spells simultaneously, then all 2nd level spells, etc., to represent the magician getting quicker at spell prep for lower level spells as they advance in level.
Extended chanting of long, difficult words of power is the more limiting version of the process. For this form, take the max spell level of all spells being prepared as the minimum number of hours needed for prep. Roll 1d6: on 5+, the magician finishes in the minimum amount of time. Otherwise, add 1 to the result rolled and multiply by the max spell level to get the number of hours needed for the chant. This represents restarting the chant if the magician mispronounces a word. Chanting while exhausted or after missing a night’s sleep adds another 1d6. Magicians with Int or Con 16+ are less likely to make mistakes and can drop 1d6.
The extreme version of words of power is Songs of Power. This adds musical instruments constructed to have a special tone or resonance into spell prep. Each spell level has its own instrument, which should cost the same amount as a spell book for that spell level. In extreme cases, an adventure to find banshee hair to weave into strings for a lyre or something similar may be needed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.