TRC magic system in the rough.

Welcome to the rough sketch of my TRCs’ magic system.

Okay… so Vancian magic system….Uh huh, hrmmm.  Really?  Seriously?  So you say my wizard studies hard, pours over countless texts full of mind aching symbols for hours so he can turn a frog into a cup and then forgets what he studied.  Sounds great! No! Wait!…….What!?

How would you feel if you studied for hours to pass a test then immediately forgot what you had read as soon as the test was over?  Okay…Bad example. (but thinking on it maybe it wasn’t a vivisection as much as an homage to the American college student).

It is no exaggeration that for years I have tried to figure out what the hell was the thought process behind this one.  D&D in its many incarnations has been largely modeled after the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, so how does the D&D wizard resemble Gandalf the grey (or white)?

Answer is of course that it doesn’t, and shouldn’t.  If you let players run around with the possible power of Gandalf or Saruman  then they would pretty much own the game.  Looking back on the rules from our enlightened viewpoint of studied game design, I can see that this was probably the beginning of the butcher job done to the AD&D wizard class.  That’s okay though because it was done for “game balance”  (cue dramatic drum roll here).

So what then should they be modeled after?  I’m gonna try Sword and Sorcery style (well S&S light as it were, in true Sword and Sorcery I don’t think many would be willing to pay the exacting price of Sorcery).

What I have in mind is splitting magic in twain (magic in this case refers to spells studied in ancient grimoires under a full moon while holding the severed head of a brindle calf……) SHUT UP! (grumble, grumble, buzzkill.)

The two types I will use are nature oriented magic, and Sorcerous magic.  The former being the magic of the fey, centered around the Elemental Lords, and the latter being the magic of dark mutterings, centered around recitation of arcane words and pacts with ancient beings.

Here are some current thoughts which will need some revision I am sure;

The mechanic to replace memorization we will call Channeling for the moment.  It is a pool of points derived from the casters’ constitution and level.  You start with a channeling equal to your characters constitution plus1d10 per level.   From a character stand point it represents how much you can channel as opposed to storage of points (in the external source versus internal source debate I view internal as belonging to the realm of psionics which is a whole ‘nother kettle ‘o’ monkey brains).  You can further more cast any spell regardless of level as long as you have enough Channeling to do so.

To see if you learn or cast a spell you have to make a spellcraft check at +2 for every level the spell is over your current one.  If it works great!  If you fumble then something goes horribly, horribly wrong.

More to come, with edits on this and onto the horrible, horriblies!  Plus soon I will delve into religious magic and much, much, more!  So stay tuned!


2 responses to “TRC magic system in the rough.

  1. First off, D&D’s system isn’t Vancian. I hate it when ppl call it that. Vance’s magic in Dying Earth was crazy. It wasn’t study X years to cast spells. It was the book that held the magic was a living THING and the words were alien creatures that are kind of like psychic life forms. When you wanted to “learn” a spell, you would read the book. The words would wiggle, come to life and then live inside of your brain. When you cast the spell, the spell would leave your brain. It was like, your brain is a cage for the alien entity that was magic.

    It was really, really weird shit. And if you read Tales of the Dying Earth, you could see how Vancian magic would actually be cool in a game. It adds a puzzle element to being a magic user.

    Anyway, neither here nor there.

    Cool system. One I’m toying with kind of uses the same system (prepare spell, cast spell, spell is gone) but explains it differently. This one is based on alchemy. Instead of memorizing the spell, you spend hours creating the alchemical artifact. Burn herbs, melt shit, throw it together in a ju ju bag. There, the spell compenents are ready.

    Then, when you cast you wave your hands and burn the ju-ju bag. That makes the spell happen. You don’t forget it afterwards- you just don’t have another ju-ju bag, and that takes hours or preparation.


    • Not familiar with the works of Jack Vance first hand however so I can’t split hairs on that. The Dying Earth apparently was the inspiration for it though.

      Glad you liked the proto-system. The spell is gone formula makes sense in the context of alchemy so your idea sounds great. Follows a formula similiar to Merlins’ from “The Courts of Chaos”.


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