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Old 08-17-2015, 11:01 PM   #1
Arith Winterfell
 
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Default Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

First, I want to say I really like the Sorcery system that has come out of Thaumatology: Sorcery and I picked up the book as soon as I found out about its release.

However, I'm looking to use the system for Mages/Wizards in my setting, in essence I want to make Sorcery more academic and occult knowledge flavored while still keeping the wonderful mechanics of the current Sorcery system.

So basically I imagine things in terms of my fictional setting that some people are born with magical talents and the ability to create magical effects (spells) innately, but it takes learning to master these skills.

I also want to capture the sense of occult knowledge, hidden secrets, etc. So that sorcerer characters can find hidden texts, forgotten books sealed away in lost tombs, etc and be rewarded by being able to learn spells from such lore (of course still spending character points on it and all).

In short I'm trying to use the sorcery mechanics, but make things feel closer to the academic focused D&D style wizard. However, I'm unsure how to approach things in order to get that feel or flavor for my setting's sorcerers. Any suggestions or ideas on how to do this?

Is it a question of tweaking the sorcerer mechanics? Or perhaps a question of surrounding flavor (e.g. skills sorcerers take alongside spells)? Or is it a question of non-mechanical flavor in how they are portrayed in the setting itself?
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:11 PM   #2
Dragondog
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

I'd say that non-mechanical flavor is the place to start. Make the Sorcery spells learnable and use whatever academic flavor you want for how to get that done.

Designate some spells as hidden and reward them to your players at appropriate points in your story.
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

In my opinion sorcery is best suited for things like D&D sorcerers for wizards I would personally use modular abilities instead of alternate abilities. That has the added benefit that you can thus learn new spells to put in the slots and easier have a large number of such.

But if you want to use sorcery, it does not seem to have anything suggesting non academic thing except the flavor texts. Simply requiring the study time rules to be used would give an academic feel.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

It might also help to tie the spells to the Thaumatology skill, either by replacing IQ rolls with a skill roll or by requiring a certain level of Thaumatology to access the more powerful spells.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:04 AM   #5
PK
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

Agreed with everyone saying that this is just campaign flavor. The only reason I snubbed academic mages in the intro to Sorcery was to drive home the contrast between standard wizards and sorcerers. There's really no reason to say that sorcery isn't academic.

The best way is to require sorcerers to train, limiting them to the spells that their teachers know; if they want more, they can find new teachers or discover rare books containing long-forgotten spells. Bring up Thaumatology skill a lot, asking for rolls to know "what spell may have caused this" and such. Treat upgrading known spells as research projects -- demand Thaumatology and Research rolls, made in an appropriate library. That sort of thing.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

One version of "academic" is the thing you have with Path and Book magic in GURPS Thaumatology (which I really look and am using) and possibly with RPM (I haven't looked closely at RPM): a system where working magic is a slow process, taking minutes or hours, and you do it before you go into combat as a preparatory process. I don't think that's easily done with Sorcery.

A different version is that you can cast spells quickly, perhaps in a second, or at worst in a few seconds, making it suitable for combat use; but you have to learn it through formal classroom study. Well, that's also true of standard mana-based magic learned simply as skills. But I was able to work out a detailed treatment of mana-based magic as an academic subject in GURPS Locations: Worminghall. It had a medieval flavor, of course, but the academic side lies in the rules for how you learn spells, how you cast half-learned spells, and how spells are organized into a curriculum taught by a faculty.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:47 AM   #7
Anders
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

One thing I did was to add the Requires (Attribute) roll from Powers (p.122) and then switching that to a Thaumatology roll, making mages have to roll against Thaumatology everytime they cast a spell. I think a Thaumatology roll for improvising spells would be eminently fair in that case as well.

If you have Powers I recommend Skills Enhancing Abilities (p.161) for tips on how to make skills useful for a powers-mage.
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

Or rather than base everything on a single core skill like Thaumatology or Ritual Magic, go the "Skills For Everyone" route, and require a skill per spell to use it, much as was done for Psionic Powers. Define those skills as something that requires book learning to improve, not just repeated casting of the spell. Some such individual spell-skills might well have some that can be learned only from lost or ancient books, as they're unknown to the academic wizard community.
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

The learning process can also be simulated by learning spells first with lots of limitations (unreliable, costs FP, ...) to simulate the limited understanding that the mage has. As he studies it more, he can buy the limitations off until he reaches a full understanding of the magic.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:42 AM   #10
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Making Thaumatology Sorcery feel academic

Quote:
Originally Posted by z0boson View Post
The learning process can also be simulated by learning spells first with lots of limitations (unreliable, costs FP, ...) to simulate the limited understanding that the mage has. As he studies it more, he can buy the limitations off until he reaches a full understanding of the magic.
That's how I'd do it, if I were to make a magic system for GURPS.

Doing so doesn't necessarily make it feel academic, though. It just affects the four-dimensional shape of spellcasters, in that it represents different career stages, characterized by increasing degrees of control.

To make a GURPS magic system (or indeed any other magic system) more academic, make it feel more bookish, I think I might introduce several different learnable skills.

One skill that is used to actually cast the spells, but not necessarily in all circumstances. For instance there could be a Perk, for each spell, to allow the character to skip the roll, if casting under certain circumstances (such as when casting spells that aren't overly complicated and when it's outside of combat).

Or there could be Perks to get a hefty bonus to this roll depending on spell type (and a different Perk to get an even hefteir bonus to a specific spell), and then a penalty to effective skill if casting during combat or otherwise under stresful circumstances, and a penalty depending on how difficult the spell is (some spells are super simple, other very complicated), then a general rule that if effective skill is X or higher (where X could be 18, or perhaps 16, or 20 or 21) then you don't have to roll.

Another skill that is used to invent new spells.

A third skill that is only rolled for on a spellcasting critical miss, or on some similar metaphysical disaster, where the outcome of the roll influences the severity grade of the Spellcasting Fumble table that you roll on, i.e. if you make your roll then you get to roll on a less nasty table than otherwise.

(For that matter, there could be a fourth skill representing the learnable ability to sense magic, inspired by the Sight skill from the Pendragon RPG.)

I'd also put emphasis on spells known, not necessarily thwarting the spontaneous casting of improvised spells, but instead similar to RPM and Ars Magica in which flexi-improvised spells are somewhat hard and taxing and dangerous to cast, whereas learned fixed spells are somehow easier (note that RPM and Ars Magica opt for different balances here). And I'd emphasize the game-mechanical process of adding new spells to one's repertoire.

Note that the above is different from how I do it in Sagatafl. Emphasis there is not on spells-known, but rather on "college skills" (learning the actual spells is quite easy), and there is one Magic Theory skill that is almost only used to invent spells (and to generally understand magic). But that's because I wanted a spell magic system that could be utilized both by academic mages and by non-academic mages (although if you're so starkly non-academic that you haven't even learned any Magic Theory at all, then others ought to stand well back whenever you try to cast a spell). Different design goal, and therefore a different implementation, since I'm not keen on the total dominance of the Romano-Western "academic" robe-and-hat wizard type. I want to have a few iliterate-yet-brilliant druids, too.
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