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Old 07-29-2016, 07:28 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default First magic style

Yeah, the magic styles book has been out for awhile, but this is my first dance with it.

EDIT: Turned first style into first collection, starting post 9. What was originally posted here has been moved.

Last edited by Gef; 08-12-2016 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 07-29-2016, 07:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: First magic style


I like the way it turned out, but it took a lot of time. Not sure I can do much of this, but the first one's for a PC.

In my game world, 4% of the population have the gift, and half are One College Only (and half the rest are limited some other way, like cyclic). You can train up levels but can't buy off the limitation. Plus, it makes sense to specialize even if you have a broader gift, so there are thousands of wizards in the setting for each college, and it's pseudo-rennaisance, so somewhat organized. There'd be styles like this for each specialty. For this campaign, I require any PC wizard to be single-college (only 1 taker so far).

The leveled approach to alternate prereqs saves a lot of time. Handy to have the spell charts even so. I like that I didn't have to require a dozen spells that the PC can never cast to get another dozen that he can, and I like having some spells that do a P&W job even though they aren't normally in the college.

Regarding the leveled approach, I combined levels 3 and 4, and bumped a bit from 2 and 5, to get all the Resist spells in one place, because that's the signature of the style. But it's okay, 6 spells plus CI as a prereq are enough for any "level 4" spell.

In the campaign setting, the church has a lock on mages. Other countries have secular guilds but not the PCs' home. A master wizard has less rank than a priest. Also, multiple magics exist, but the main two are spells and effect-shaping book magic. Priests use the latter.

I use enhancements and limitations on spells (from the old S. John Ross Pyramid article in 3e days but heavily modified from that start). I combine the modifiers into standard packages to define a school; that's why all the deacon spells require Theology: They have to invoke the names of saints (and can't cast quietly). Plus they need their holy symbols (instead of the wand a secular wizard would use).

I allow casting by default from a grimoire. That's why I gave attention to the actual books and didn't include the Improvised Casting perk.

Last edited by Gef; 07-29-2016 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:06 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: First magic style

Nicely done; I am going to steal this. I do have a few questions.

Why the path to power perk for blessing if you are changing the prerequisites regardless?

What is 'moral strength' under your special exercises perk?

And lastly, how did you calculate the costs and weights of the grimoires?

For a first try, this is really good; keep it up!
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:26 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: First magic style

Glad you like it! I hoped people would find something they could use.

Moral Strength - oops, forgot to mention. This is a houserule, a perk that lets you use Will-based Theology+2 as Mental Strength. In this case, you need the Special Exercise perk to be able to get the cinematic skill.

Bless - Edited, thanks for catching that. Moved to correct level, edited prereqs for top levels so Bless has 20 as required.

Weights I assumed half a pound per spell plus an extra half pound for the 2 that let you buy a skill. Costs were (1+lvl)% of TL4 starting wealth per spell, plus 100 for the text on Occultism (avg skill) and 200 for the one on Expert (hard skill), plus 80 to get a nice round number on the last book for its historical significance and because master wizards can afford it.

PS: This old post might interest you too:

Last edited by Gef; 10-04-2018 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 07-30-2016, 12:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: First magic style

Second try...

Style is now integrated into a collection starting on post 9.

Last edited by Gef; 08-12-2016 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 07-30-2016, 01:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: First magic style

Some expectations:

A typical college-specialist wizard has Magery 0 with or without One College Only (3 or 5), and then learns up to Magery 3 with One College Only and a -40% Gadget limitation (6 more, total 9 or 11). He also has Magery 0 for Arcane Magic as an alternate ability (1pt) and Flagrant Aura (-1). These form a metatrait so the quirk doesnn't hit the disad limit.

Incidentally, anyone with a supernatural advantage can learn Supernatural Awareness as Per/VH, which basically works like Detect Supernatural with Vague, but flagrant auras are the norm so the skill's actually useful, and you get a bonus to sense others like yourself, wizard to wizard, werewolf to werewolf, etc.

Arcane magic is just what the basic set calls ritual magic. I hate that name because there's nothing inherently ritualistic about it, and meanwhile I have the highly ritualistic Book Magic in the game too. It's called "arcane" in the sense of mysterious, and it's mysterious because it's dangerous and therefore restricted, especially from apprentices. Partly it's dangerous because of calamities, and partly because you can draw on chaos and evil spontaneously, to make up for those hideous penalties and the fact that you never bought up Magery from zero. Arcane magic uses the threshold system.

For 18 points, you can get a 30pt energy reserve with the same One College and Gadget limitations, so I assume it's the norm, which means a 250pt enchantment is within reach of quick enchantment. Makes for a lot of minor enchantments on the order of +1 weapons available to the wealthy.
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: First magic style

Originally Posted by Gef View Post
For 18 points, you can get a 30pt energy reserve with the same One College and Gadget limitations, so I assume it's the norm, which means a 250pt enchantment is within reach of quick enchantment. Makes for a lot of minor enchantments on the order of +1 weapons available to the wealthy.
Shudder. Not in my game. That's some hard core optimization.

If you have all your NPC's do it, that's a setting decision, but generally when I use standard magic Energy reserves are tightly regulated.
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Old 07-30-2016, 02:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: First magic style

Hi Eric,

That's why I brought it up, because my campaign assumptions may differ from others, and what makes sense in a magic style depends on those assumptions. In the case of the Stalwart Brothers, you can expect a master to make an Utter Wall 4 yards long; that's why he needs combat ceremony to work with other masters to make a wall the bad guy can't just run around in one turn. Energy Reserve is very affordable even without heroic-level characters and the logical consequences are easy to extrapolate. For the fire-only wizard, it means he can cast Rain of Fire over an area comparable to a D&D fireball. And for enchanters, it means you can scan through the enchantment costs with a target number in mind and figure out what's on the market. I like the results; the cost for +1 Accuracy as Signature Gear doesn't work out more expensive than a level of skill.

In a TL4 game, I use $10/pt retail up to 250 energy assuming a very wealthy lead enchanter with wealthy assistants. A fine presentation-grade backsword with fine balance and Accuracy +1, Puissance +1 (+2 Goblin Bane), Penetrating Blade (2), and Hex with Password costs $18,950 - or 19 points as Signature Gear, and you'd definitely want Weapon Bond for a nice round 20. You need the Hex to protect such a valuable investment, which you could only buy with starting wealth if Filthy Rich. A sword with higher-level enchantments is still out of reach.

With prices like these, a serious professional can afford a magic item as an investment and reasonably get venture capitol to cover the startup cost. The wealthy can have enchantments if they really want to, and the filthy rich can have them on a whim, but only the modest stuff. Instead of a digital divide, there's a divide between the folks who can afford magic to be better at their jobs, and those who can't.

However, there are individual enchantments that are too cheap, relative to the others, and the number one example is Golem. In my campaign, that's a TL5 spell.
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: First magic style

I present these styles for people to adapt to their own campaigns if they wish, which should work for low-tech, high fantasy dominated by a monotheistic church with a messianic prophet and an adversary figure. In my campaign, the death of this prophet – an archangel in mortal guise – completed a ritual that closed the world to interference by powerful magical creatures. That’s why angels and devils don’t interfere directly in the affairs of men, why dragons and fairies are legends, and why certain spells work poorly including Teleport (short range) and Golem (prohibitive cost).

Air…………........Brethren of the Spark - post 11
Animal……... ....Gentle Brothers of the Lord’s Creatures - post 17
Body……….......Scholars on the Physical Nature of Man - post 19
Commo…….. ....NA - Proscribed
Earth……….. ....Other Styles (The Firm) - post 23
Enhcantment..Castle Chorus - post 12
Fire…………......Brethren of the Spark - post 11
Food………......Other Styles (Monks of the Mess) - post 23
Gate…………....NA – Proscribed
Healng………....Other Styles (Hands of the Lord) - post 23
Illusion……......Ephemera Cast by the Halo (Creation but no Illusion) - post 15
Knowledge…...Seekers After Divine Wisdom - post 20
Light………......Ephemera Cast by the Halo (Light but no Darkness) - post 15
Making……......Friends of Ferrin - post 16
Metamagic…...Holy Calling of Abjuration - post 18 (also Conjunctional Metamagic - post 13)
Mind……….......NA – Proscribed
Movement…....Devotées of the Grand Design - post 14
Necromancy....NA – Proscribed
Plant……….......Other Styles (Friends of Seire) - post 23
Protection…....Stalwart Brothers of the Resistance to Evil - post 21
Sound………. ....Who Whisper to Heaven with the Voice of Thunder - post 22
Tech……….......NA – Not invented yet but Friends of Ferrin have the arcane path
Water………......Other Styles (Mermonks) - post 23
Weather…….....NA – Brethren of the Spark for Lightning, Mermonks for aught else

Background: My starting assumptions are that 4% of the population has Magery, though many lack the intellect and temperament for wizardry, and that half of them have the limitation One College Only, and that it can’t be bought off. That still gives some 3,000 practicing wizards of each college per 10 million population, in addition to 90,000 clergy using book magic, and the Great Powers in my campaign world all exceed that. Some colleges are fairly self-contained, while others have so many OCPs (Out-of-College Prerequisite) that you spend more on spells you can’t use than you save with the limitation. I turned to magic styles mainly for the simple alternate prerequisite system, and when you’ve got thousands of wizards per college over hundreds of years, it’s reasonable to assume they’ve managed to streamline their curriculum.

There are several types of magic in my campaign, each with its own color. I really like the standard system, notwithstanding its flaws, which tend to be down to the level of individual spells anyway. It’s easy to tweak, and I’ve done so, but the basic version has a yellow aura like the sun. Effect-shaping book magic is silver, each book is based on a god (er, archangel), and Religious Rank makes it possible to buy silver magery and gives a bonus to a specific book, so priests have a huge competitive advantage for silver magic. The next most common is arcane magic, what Basic call Ritual Magic but that name’s too confusing around Book Magic rituals, and I use the threshold system for it. I assume spell Magery 0 comes with with Arcane Magery 0 as an alternate ability, balanced by a Flagrant Aura quirk. (On auras, the Per/VH skill Supernatural Awareness works like Vague Detect Supernatural, and anyone with supernatural traits can learn it). Arcane magic is mysterious and hidden because of its power and flexibility, something you wouldn’t trust to someone immature. I bring this up because it explains why I don’t allow Improvised Spells or Spell Variation perks; that’s the dramatic niche for arcane magic. If you adapt these styles to your campaign, you may want to add them.

I also have syntactic magic, psionics, and chaos mutations (super powers) – they’re beyond the scope of this article but lemme know if you wanna discuss magic paradigms.

Spells are formulaic. They can take enhancements and limitations, but that’s built into the formula, not added on the fly. This system allows me to stat advanced spells like long-range fireballs, true, but I mainly use it to define schools of spell design (each encompassing multiple styles). These schools use signature limitations to get bonuses, typically +2 for something like a glowing wand, so IQ12/M3 is the sweet spot for base spell skill 15, and deacons get an even better bonus.

Last edited by Gef; 09-22-2016 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: First magic style

Deacon Styles

Within the successor states to the Empire of the Shards, the main magic-practicing institution is the Church of Man. In Aurgoland and the Archstates, it is the sole such, and elsewhere magic falls under ecclesiastical law even when practiced by secular guilds. In addition to ritualistic silver magic usually performed by priests as a function of holy office, the church also administers the practice of sun magic, training and employing wizards who have “the Gift” of Magery. In the church hierarchy, wizards are deacons, alongside other specialists and scholars such as lawyers and theologians.

While pure spells are available for research, sun magic of the Deacons' School has a characteristic approach to focus its power, relying on the use of a holy symbol, the four-pointed star of Humble, along with invocation of saints and angels, named aloud, so a deacon cannot cast spells silently, and he must know Theology to choose the correct name for each circumstance, but these measures strengthen and focus each spell so that the deacon casts it at +4.

In order to accommodate sundry manifestations of the Gift, the Deacons' School has several branches or styles which have refined the practice of a particular type of magic for centuries. The brotherhoods which practice each style are not monastic orders per se but more like professional associations, whose members may serve alongside practitioners of other styles in any monastic order or church organization. Most of these styles are coincident with a single college and recruit wizards whose Gift is limited to that college; those with a Gift of broader scope can seek instruction in more than one.

Certain spell colleges are strictly regulated by the church, to the point of proscription, including Communication and Empathy, Gate, Illusion, Mind Control, and Necromancy. Should a potential wizard have a Gift useful for nothing else, the church will recruit him in order to make sure he never seeks to develop it, probably steering him toward a lucrative career in alchemy. Only deans (master wizards) in good standing may work with these colleges, under close supervision of priests and only with spell formulæ constrained to prevent abuse, for example with a fixed duration of mere seconds.

Other colleges have applications too useful to ban but too dangerous to allow in enemy hands, spells like Divination, Explosive Fireball, Invisibility, Missile Shield, or Message (which sees heavy use because telepathy is proscribed), and some of these colleges (like Protection and Warning) have scarce non-military application. Even the spell which summons a favorable breeze for merchant ships is equally useful to the navy, and even a spell to preserve food simplifies logistics for potential rebel forces. In a sense, the church exists to militarize magic on behalf of the sate, so half the deacons serve in a military capacity and the other half must account for their activities to prove that they don't!

Apprentice wizards serve as acolytes and learn half a dozen spells. When ready for advanced study, the journeyman receives ordination as a deacon (Clerical Investment) which along with his growing theoretical knowledge serves as an absolute prerequisite for further progress in the Deacons’ School, including all Very Hard spells and all which deal direct damage (potentially displacing a conventional prerequisite). Thus, the church can strip him of his access to spells by revoking his priestly authority. When a deacon meets the qualifications for master wizard as determined by his style, typically mastery of a dozen spells at minimum with a potent Energy Reserve (30 energy for at least one college, may have a Familiar or Gadget limitation as well), he becomes a Dean (Religious Rank 1, still subordinate to a full priest). As clergy and scholars, deacons will have the opportunity to learn silver magic and sundry academic skills; ecclesiastical Law in particular will serve them well.

All deacon styles teach the spells Recover Energy and Scroll with Clerical Investment as the prerequisite and Enchant with Religious Rank 1 as the prerequisite (along with spells that the Dean had to master to attain that rank), but these Enchantments are variants limited to spells of the same style.

Last edited by Gef; 08-12-2016 at 01:18 AM.
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