So, in a previous post I described the use of magic as having three parts: raise the energy, directing it, and dismissing it.
One thing about the three part process is that I’ve had it in my mind—especially since realizing yesterday that there’s no reason not to let quality levels stack—that different things would give bonuses to different parts of the process. So you could be someone who can raise magic at the drop of a hat but isn’t so good at directing it, or someone who’s a pro at directing it but can’t always get it to go.
Today, as I was writing out the description for the personal quality of Fury and the things that fall within its scope, it occurred to me that it could be applied to raising certain types of magic, such as Pyromancy. I started to think about how to quantify exactly what falls under Fury, and whether other qualities should have similar notes, like Tranquility for Hydromancy.
And then I realized that I had an opportunity here both for another way of customizing characters and a way of making the three-step magic system more interesting.
To wit: make it so that instead of raising magic having anything to do with how powerful/skilled you are at magic, and instead tie it to a personal quality, of your choice.
Do you raise magic through sheer force of Presence or Willpower? Elaborate hand gestures (Dexterity)? Is it connected to your Faith? Your Knowledge of lost arts? Your Intuition of other realms? Your Perception of the natural world?
Some people reading along at home but not reading and digesting every game design post I make are going, “Well, everyone will just pick their best stat.”
And sure they will. But that misses the point that these aren’t stats, they’re qualities a character either has in heroic proportion or doesn’t. A newly created character has usually one or at best two of them, and if you’re also wielding magic, it’s going to be one. Since your magic-raising attribute is always going to be at the same level no matter what you pick, you have no reason not to pick something that makes a pleasing combination for you or fits your character concept: Fury and Pyromancy. Tranquility and Hydromancy. Intimidation and Necromancy. Charm or Deception and Summoning. Dexterity and Conjuring. Or whatever fits your character concept.
People who followed the circa 2013 development version (which had a true attribute system) might remember that I toyed with the idea of substituting other specific attributes for the Magic attribute in a similar fashion, though that was tying specific attributes to specific forms of magic.
The best part of this is it can be used to inform the next step in magic use, by helping inform what exactly happens if you badly botch the control: your rage runs uncheck, your calm is disturbed, the spirits you’ve coerced rebel, et cetera. It could also have other wrinkles, as a character who uses Dexterity would have to have their hands free to raise magic effectively
I’m not 100% sure how dismissal will work, in terms of whether it will be a function of your magic-raising quality, the magic quality you’re using itself, or both. Actually, both might be the way to go, as that would make dismissal by default the easiest part to do (because an improvement to either of the preceding steps would improve it)… which, I don’t know if I’d call that realistic, inasmuch as the concept applies, but in terms of magic remaining a viable game option, I feel like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scenario has got to be one of the rarer failure states. Even allowing that the guidelines as written call for un-dismissed magic to lash out once before dispersing into the environment most of the time, if every time you used magic to do something, something bad happened immediately afterwards, how often would you do magic? There’s “magic always a price” and then there’s “the universe clearly doesn’t want you to do this thing”.
Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, I think the raising quality—which I will now call the control quality—will be part of the whole process.
To raise magic, you use the control quality; e.g., Dexterity.
Once the magic is present, you use the power quality (e.g., Aeromancy) to make it do things.
Note that “control” refers to control over the magic itself, not the precision with which the magic performs the duties you direct it to. That’s still a function of power. Power is your ability to accomplish your will through magic; control is your ability to keep the magic from doing anything else.
Each time that you do something significant with the magic or suffer an attack or something that might disrupt your concentration, you use the control quality to keep a rein on the magic. Failure doesn’t mean the magic runs rampant, just that it does something you didn’t count on.
With this added complication, I think I’m going to do away with the idea of a dismissal roll in general cases… it’ll only be a thing if you’ve 1) previously lost control of your magic and 2) didn’t let the magic go immediately after the loss of control. The difficulty of the dismissal roll will be based on the number of control slips you had, which will also be the number of rampaging “things” the magic will do on its way out of the world.
In addition to making magic interesting and counteracting its basic “do anything” nature with added danger of complications, this also prevents any character from being *just* a wizard of any description. They’ll all have some other defining trait that is integral to their character concept. It also distinguishes between power and control (an important distinction to me) without having to monopolize a magic-using character’s resources by taking up two-thirds of the initial slots, insofar as any personal quality stands on its own as a useful adventuring asset apart from magic. If your control comes from Willpower, you’ll have all the other benefits of willpower. If your control comes from Knowledge, you’ll still have approximate knowledge of many things.
Perhaps most interesting is the ability to instantly “flavor” magic as divine rather than arcane by attaching it to a personal quality like honor, faith, or sanctity.