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Old 03-20-2021, 07:50 AM   #1
Greg 1
 
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Default Getting the Gods into the Magic System

Just for the hell of it, I’m working on a new setting. I’m not sure how to best set up the magic system so that the gods are flavorfuly woven into it, and I’m looking for ideas. In the setting, magic comes directly from the gods and requires petitioning the gods correctly. In magic as in ordinary life, few people rely on only one god, since no one god oversees all aspects of the world. Instead, the wizard learns to interact with “the gods”. Wizards are like voodooists, dealing with multiple loa. Priests exist, but there is no separate system for “clerical magic”. Priests who want to cast spells have to learn the same magic as everyone else.

I’m leaning towards some version of path/book magic, with modifiers for how well the rituals incorporate the relevant gods, and how those gods feel about the spellcaster and their goal. However, that would be difficult to implement for the following reasons.

1. There are many gods. At my last count, there are 67 major ones who have worshipers all over the continent where campaigns are assumed to be set.

2. The jurisdictions of these gods overlap. So, for instance, there are eight competing major gods responsible for the element of fire.

3. Some gods have much broader jurisdictions than other gods. So, for instance, one god is a deity of agriculture, drugs, fire, law, and war, while other gods have jurisdiction over only one of those areas.

So, any thoughts on how to set up the magic system?
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Old 03-20-2021, 07:58 AM   #2
Fred Brackin
 
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So, any thoughts on how to set up the magic system?
In one of the late Harold Shea books Harold and crew ended up in Heroic Age Greece and magic was done there by invoking the name of the appropriate god in your incantation.

For example, an invisibility effect (I think) invoked the name of Hermes (though Hades and his helmet would e an alternate). Then Dionysius for Water to Wine and so on.
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Old 03-20-2021, 08:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Getting the Gods into the Magic System

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2. The jurisdictions of these gods overlap. So, for instance, there are eight competing major gods responsible for the element of fire.
For more flavor, you could have them represent different elements of fire. For instance, one could be Fire the Purifier, another Fire Destroyer of Cities, a third could be Fire Transformation Mundane into Divine (hence burning objects as sacrifice). Calling on these gods would produce very different effects.

A lot depends on how much work you want to do. This could be vanilla GURPS Magic with the gods' names being part of the standard incantation, it could be a complex Cabal-like system of agonistic and antagonistic substances depending on what gods you call on and what you want to accomplish and anything in-between.
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Old 03-20-2021, 08:53 AM   #4
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For more flavor, you could have them represent different elements of fire. For instance, one could be Fire the Purifier, another Fire Destroyer of Cities, a third could be Fire Transformation Mundane into Divine (hence burning objects as sacrifice). Calling on these gods would produce very different effects.
On the other hand, there could be lots of peculiar overlapping. You could have Poseidon Sea-Ruler, Poseedon Earthshaker and Poseidon Tamer of Horses al lumped together for no very sensible reason.
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Old 03-20-2021, 09:21 AM   #5
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Default Re: Getting the Gods into the Magic System

If all it takes to invoke a god is to name them, your game's wizards will just throw names into the pot at whim.

You might, on the other hand, require some kind of payment by the wizard for the right to use the name.

For instance, tie levels of Magery into Vows to a particular god. Magery is not inborn; it is acquired by taking a Vow:

Magery 0: quirk-level Vow
Magery 1: Minor Vow
Magery 2: Major Vow
Magery 3: Great Vow

The Vow is a dedication to carry out the wishes and agenda of the god, appropriate to its level. (A quirk-level Vow would just require you to extoll the god in public where appropriate, while a Great Vow would require you to join the priesthood, try to convert people to the god's cult, and live unerringly according to the god's dictates.) If you take the Vow, you have the right to invoke the god's name in magic rituals, and the level of Vow is the maximum level of Magery you can have.

If certain gods have limited portfolios, you can use Aspected Magery or One-College Magery to represent this.

If the Vow is broken, access to the associated Magery is blocked until amends can be made, if possible.

The system would take some tweaking to fit to the specific gods of the campaign. You wouldn't necessarily have to work out the details of every god, though, just the ones the players want to associate with.
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Old 03-20-2021, 12:03 PM   #6
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Getting the Gods into the Magic System

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If all it takes to invoke a god is to name them, your game's wizards will just throw names into the pot at whim.

You might, on the other hand, require some kind of payment by the wizard for the right to use the name.
This is seen some in Aaron Allston's 2 Doc Sidhe books. The title character uses a sort of ancient theonomy where he always has to promise the god something and get a positive reaction.

Of course, soem tiems the deity may not be that hard to get aid from. The God of Chaos and Mischief might give you a smokescreen to blind your enemies just for the sake of the amusing confusion that would ensue.
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Old 03-20-2021, 12:45 PM   #7
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For more flavor, you could have them represent different elements of fire... Calling on these gods would produce very different effects.
The gods do have differing abilities, but it's important that there is lots of overlap. It's the overlap that drives world politics for a couple of reasons at least.

1. The overlap gives the gods reason to compete with each other. Every god of fire wants to be the only god of fire.

2. The overlap means that communities need to choose between rival gods when deciding how to get their needs met. If they want to honor or call on a major fire god as a community, they have eight choices.

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On the other hand, there could be lots of peculiar overlapping. You could have Poseidon Sea-Ruler, Poseedon Earthshaker and Poseidon Tamer of Horses al lumped together for no very sensible reason.
There is a lot of what looks like this. Many gods are responsible for multiple areas that don't obviously go together. For instance, one of the major fire gods is also a god of the sea and storms (and a patron of armorers, cheats, extortionists, painters, smugglers, and windmills). There is always a logic to it, but not always an obvious logic.
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Old 03-20-2021, 03:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Getting the Gods into the Magic System

Have you looked at the Divine Favor system?
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Old 03-20-2021, 03:31 PM   #9
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In the setting, magic comes directly from the gods and requires petitioning the gods correctly...no one god oversees all aspects...leaning towards some version of path/book magic...there are 67 major ones...eight competing major gods responsible for the element of fire...Some gods have much broader jurisdictions
Hi Greg, I had all the same considerations for my present campaign. First I added some spells from standard magic to the path magic list, then I divided the list into spheres of influence, 6-9 spells per, with some overlap but every category had something unique. Then I built paths around divine portfolios combining three spheres plus animal spells for the animals important to each god. If needed, I grouped gods together to make one path; that's how I get around the variable size jurisdiction. For instance, the path of Mars AND Venus. There's also an a la carte method for gods who don't line up neatly with my spheres.

You may have seen my Magic Vegas thread before and passed it over if you weren't thinking about these matters, but I think it's worth a second look now that you're tackling the same questions: forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=162430
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Old 03-20-2021, 05:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Getting the Gods into the Magic System

Suppose (I haven't got it yet) each jurisdiction has a given amount of Mana points which react on each patron god's jurisdiction. Athena as mistress of a thousand crafts spends so many points on her favorite heroes ship, and Poseidon has so many from the ocean. Naturally they negotiate and agree that the hero can come but only on a craft made of wood and only on a certain rate of speed according to what oar and sail can do. So Athena has to negotiate with Artemis or Pan or whomever is relevant to get the wood. All this sounds sort of like an international conference.

I am getting jumbled up. I hope I am helping more then I am clouding things.

Athena of course as weaver, not to mention one of the smartest of them, cheats Poseidon by inventing sails.

You know, though, this sounds like a Miles Vorkosigan Fanfiction I read where Miles commented on how he might borrow some gravel for a mosaic from neighboring counts. I wonder if gods in a given pantheon do this: trade elements from their jurisdiction to others. Probably in this deal Athena would have to give something to Poseidon to allow ships to sail. Maybe every few voyages Charybdis gets sailors to eat?
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