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Monday, October 28, 2019

Power Sources for Spell Prep

We’ve been talking in a couple places about how the old school magic system works. That reminded me that I had this table squirreled away somewhere. It’s a list of sources of magical power.

d6 Source of Power on Doubles on Triples
1 Astrology Limited Time Planetary Rays
2 Words of Power Chanting Long Song
3 Invocation Worship Sacrifice
4 Occult Forces Rare Reagent Magical Reagent
5 Psychic Powers Meditation Trance State
6 Spirit Binding Pacts Sacrifice

Purpose: Randomly determining what a magic system requires a spell caster to do in order to prep a spell, as opposed to actually casting it. Not necessarily for your main form of spell casting, which most GMs or groups would probably want to discuss rather than randomize… But if a GM needed a topic for a random obscure magical tome, or if a strange new adventuring area needs a custom form of magic to make it feel distinct, this table could help with that.

Concept: The table sorts the potential sources of magical power into six categories: astrological forces, occult forces, words of power, invocation of divine power, binding of lesser spirits, and innate psychic power. Each source of power can also have different degrees of effort required:
  • The second column is in general just “fluff”, but may have potential minor effects (pissing off a god might cause a penalty if magic requires invocation, for example.)
  • The third column either takes longer or requires more resources.
  • The fourth column is even more extreme.
Usage: Roll either 2d6 or 3d6, depending on how elaborate you want the magic system to be. With three dice, your magic system may have:
  1. three different required sources of power, or
  2. two sources, one of which is more limiting than the other, or
  3. one very limiting source.
Spell casters would have to follow the indicated procedure to prepare their spells, after which they are either cast immediately or set to trigger when specific mnemonic phrases and gestures are used.

I’m still thinking over the process. I might ditch the third degree of difficulty. I might think of another source of power. Each of the power sources probably deserves more explanation in another post.

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  1. do you roll once for each magician "style" or once per spell prep, as to represent the abstraction of what the spellbook says for the current situation?

    both are nice to me

    1. You could certainly adapt the table for either an individual magician's style or the current limitations on a magician's spell prep, if that's what you wanted.

      However, the intention was to fill in details on how all magicians within a specific tradition get their magical power. It's mainly useful for making up variant M-U classes who get their power a different way than the default M-U class.

  2. what is meant by "planetary rays" and how is that a stricter requirement than "limited time"?

    1. I know I promised to do detailed posts on the various power sources to explain them better, but hadn't gotten to it yet. I'll try to do a very brief explanation of the Astrology row.

      Astrology in general means that whatever rituals you are doing to prep your spells depends on doing things "when the stars are right". The weakest version just requires owning an ephemeris and adjusting incantations and ingredients to match the current astrological alignments.

      Limited Time in this case means that each kind of spell can only be prepped at certain times. If you miss your window of opportunity, you may have to wait a week.

      Planetary Rays goes beyond this to requiring a specific planet to not only be above the horizon, but its rays must be focused through a special lens unique for each planet.

      As I said, I haven't fully decided whether to keep Planetary Rays or the whole fourth column. The fourth column works for the Occult Forces and Spirit Binding power sources, somewhat well for Astrology, but not very well at all for Words of Power and Psychic Powers.

    2. awesome! thanks for clarifying; i assumed "limited time" meant the stars had to be in the proper position, and i interpreted that to mean the spell could be cast once a year (or perhaps even less often) so i was confused as to how you could one-up that (once per year/ruled by zodiac signs could be a fourth column for astrology... but i personally think it's prolly best to stop at three)

    3. No prob!

      You might want to check out the more detailed post I just finished on astrology as a power source. I do mention in the post longer time periods as a possibility, but instead of adding a column, I tie it to spell levels.

      There will be more posts covering each of the power sources.