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Thread: Earthsea-style Magic

  1. #1
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    Default Earthsea-style Magic

    A certain nordic god recently bestowed upon me (or lent me) the gift of the Tales of Earthsea collection. It has my head spinning.

    Personally, the Earthsea stories are my favorite fantasy collection. They really get inside my head.

    Anyway, I was thinking that BW is close, but to do Earthsea true justice a few things would have to be changed.

    First, the Will+Sorcery dialectic doesn't seem to accurately reflect the source material. Nor does Forte for Tax tests (I think).

    So I think there should be a True Power or Craft attribute that represents the character's contact with the Old and True Powers. This attribute would then take the place of both Will and Forte in Sorcery.

    Skills would be Hand, Summoner, Patterner, Windkey, Namer and Changer.

    Herbal and Chanter are mundane skills--Herbalism and Ancient and Obscure histories.

    Namer is a problematic skill, but there are some wizards in Mrs LeGuin's work who simply know the names of all those whom they see.

    Spells of Curing and Healing (and a number of others) are not taught on Roke as they are left to the Witches. But they'd be available skill choices depending on lifepaths.

    To work a spell, the Wizard combines his Power plus the applicable craft skill. To summon a magewind, I'd test my character's True Power plus his Windkey skill.

    All spells are abstractions. Thor suggested this: Skills determine/act as impeti and elements. Origin, Duration, and Area of Effect are combined on the fly to create the obstacle.

    I think Namer would have to be restricted to Single Target area of effect. Or something.

    Tax is taken against True Power. As is sustaining. She often refers to her wizard characters as having been "broken" or "spent part of his strength for good" or not having "a shred of power left in me to follow him with." It seems like wizards spend their ability to call upon their power, more than they drain their vital energy.

    However, I think that Forte dice should be able to be "spent" to buy off Tax. However, each die is recovered in 24 hours - Health (not 10 minus Health).

    Playing in Earthsea would change around the traits for wizards and humans a bit. All characters would possess the Named trait. If the true name of a character is learned and spoken, the character must obey the command given. It acts like the Tasting the Lash trait. Or, if another effect is being called on, the Wizard who knows his target's True Name may add his Will exponent dice into his casting roll.

    All characters who are Gifted possess a mild form of innate Sense. They can sense other wizards in their presence and sense spells being worked. All Gifted characters automatically start the game with Aura Reading opened at its root. It may be advanced normally if the skill appears in the character's lifepaths, or with General points if it does not.

    The wizard's staff of Roke is a Sustainer and a Channeller. The Cloak is a Shunt (and warm to boot). All wizards who study on Roke begin the game with them if they desire. (I guess they'd have to cost rps.)

    whaddya think?
    -L
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    I like it! And it goes along with some of my thoughts on how to do it to boot. Personally, I would make Naming into a skill similar to Astrology and allow the wizard to FoRK it into any magical working (open-ended both ways). If you get the Name right, it helps a lot, but if you get the Name wrong...

    I think you should also be able to use the Naming skill on its own to figure out people's (and dragon's names...I'm looking at you, Yevaud), but it will not be open-ended in this case. If you figure out someone's Name, you automatically add them as a Named Contact in your Circles (or maybe as a straight Relationship?). If you want to make it REALLY potent, if you know something or someone's Name (i.e., you've made the roll, gotten so many successes, and turned them into a Named Contact/Relationship), you can cast a Single Target spell on them no matter where they are!

    I corner him and stab him in the face!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Olavsrud
    I like it! And it goes along with some of my thoughts on how to do it to boot. Personally, I would make Naming into a skill similar to Astrology and allow the wizard to FoRK it into any magical working (open-ended both ways). If you get the Name right, it helps a lot, but if you get the Name wrong...
    Yes, I'm sorry. I meant to give you credit for the skill+skill+Origin+Duration+AoE type of spell casting. You hear that everyone? That was Thor's Idea!

    I think you should also be able to use the Naming skill on its own to figure out people's (and dragon's names...I'm looking at you, Yevaud), but it will not be open-ended in this case. If you figure out someone's Name, you automatically add them as a Named Contact in your Circles (or maybe as a straight Relationship?). If you want to make it REALLY potent, if you know something or someone's Name (i.e., you've made the roll, gotten so many successes, and turned them into a Named Contact/Relationship), you can cast a Single Target spell on them no matter where they are!
    Hm. I think you're on the right track. The Naming skill is really really really important to Earthsea -- it was Medra's chosen final art and therefore taught to every student at Roke. But maybe it should mimic Astrology. (There doesn't seem to be any astrology in LeGuin's world as far as I can remember.)

    And your interpretation of the Single Target thing is really cool. But before we leap off the deep end with that, is their any precedent for it in the source material? (that's REALLY powerful). I can only find vague hints of the consequences of another learning your name in the work. There's definitely the obedience thing. But what else?

    -L
    "Athos—Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!"
    --D'Artagnan

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    Quote Originally Posted by abzu
    And your interpretation of the Single Target thing is really cool. But before we leap off the deep end with that, is their any precedent for it in the source material? (that's REALLY powerful). I can only find vague hints of the consequences of another learning your name in the work. There's definitely the obedience thing. But what else?
    As far as I can remember, we never really learn what can be done to someone when you have their Name. IIRC, the wizard that enslaved Medra had already forced Medra's obedience when he got Medra's Name.

    But we know that it's BAD news. Hell, even Yevaud gets terrified when Ged speaks his Name.

    So yeah, I can't cite a source for the Single Target thing. It was more of a brainstorm. Maybe knowing the Name just gives you an automatic success/es when casting a spell on the person?

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    Or, if another effect is being called on, the Wizard who knows his target's True Name may add his Will exponent dice into his casting roll.
    My initial suggestion was a bit more drastic. Do you think that's too much, or did you just miss it?

    -L
    "Athos—Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!"
    --D'Artagnan

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    Quote Originally Posted by abzu
    My initial suggestion was a bit more drastic. Do you think that's too much, or did you just miss it?

    -L
    I thought I had already suggested that it work like Astrology (i.e. open-ended FoRKs both ways)? Or are we talking about a new form of Astrology for the Revision?

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    I think we have officially crossed wires at this point. ::bzzrt::

    Let me see if I can untangle:
    Naming is NOT a spellcraft skill. It is an astrology-like skill that allows the Wizard to use his Aura Reading/Sense abilities to determine the names of other people. (I think the names of that which does not speak in its own language must be learned rote.) Obstacles to come.

    Naming can also FoRK into any spellcraft skill.

    If a wizard character is in possession of the True Name of another character he may add his Will+True Power+craft skill when attempting to cast a spell on them.

    How's that?

    let's see if we can model some spells and define the crafts!

    What does Hand do again? Is it the illusion making?
    Windkey is weatherworker, I think.
    Summoner is summoner.
    Changer allows you to change shape. But she often talks of the risk of changing shape -- apparently if you take one shape too long or too often you wish to become it and remain in your new form. Also, apparently while changed wizards cannot work spells.
    What about Patterner? I need to reread the first book. I think it's described in there.

    How do would do the Binding and Staying spells?

    Oh yeah, a basic component I forgot: All wizardry and sorcery requires both spoken and gestured elements. If either are not possible, a spell cannot be worked.

    -L
    "Athos—Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!"
    --D'Artagnan

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    Okay. I'm on the same page as you now. Awesome!

    * Master Windkey, who teaches weather control
    * Master Hand, who teaches illusions
    * Master Herbal, who teaches healing
    * Master Changer, who teaches transformation
    * Master Summoner, who teaches calling
    * Master Namer, who teaches the True Speech
    * Master Patterner, who teaches meaning and intent
    * Master Finder, who teaches seeking and returning
    * Master Doorkeeper, who watches the gates and protects the school
    * Archmage, who leads the school

    I'm not sure if Finder remained after Medra? Also, Patterner seems to have some sort of power to know things far away, and also divine what is coming.

    Also, while I appreciate the idea of burning out your power, I'm not sure that should take the place of Tax. Maybe it takes the place of Garbled Transmission? Or even better, maybe you can burn out your magical might for extra dice on especially powerful magics?

    Why? Because the most important aspect of being a Wizard is preserving the Balance. Understanding the consequences of what you are doing is what it's all about. I think everytime you cast a spell, even if it goes off perfectly, you have a chance of disrupting the balance and causing unintended effects.

    I'm guessing that Binding and Staying are Summoner arts?

    Also, how do we distinguish the difference between sorcerers, witches, and wizards? Do we even have to?

    We need to have Menders, Finders, Healers, etc.

    I corner him and stab him in the face!

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    Some more thougths on naming skill.
    What if naming skill would determine depth of your true-names knowledge, so if you want to cast spell first you roll to determine if you remeber/know your subject real name.
    Some obstacles:
    OB2 - small animals (frogs, worms, butterflies)
    OB3 - medium animals (cats, dogs, horses, eagles)
    OB6,7, - demons and creatures of shadow (but has to be followed with extensive research)
    OB7,8 - human's real name
    OB9,10 - wizard's and dragons real names

    In addition if your naming skill exponent is twice as big as target's OB (or higher) you do not have to roll, your character spent so much time researching and memorizing true names of things in the halls of names that he hasn;t got any difficulities recalling it.
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    Sorry for the thread necromancy... I am looking for including other types of magic in my games. So far, we've been using mainly set spell effects, and recently included abstractions, and I'd like to know if someone had tested Earthsea magic in play.

    Some thoughts about it...

    Thor, witches are presented are basically being technicians of magic, not being able to devise spells on their own, and uncaring about the consequences of their power. Ged's aunt could cast spells but lacked understanding of what she's doing, not even being able to distinguish her true magic with supertitions and rituals. I feel that witches should use set spells and that the abstraction mechanism should be reserved to mages, with the drawback that they must in some way respect the balance witches carelessly ignore. As the Master Summoner says in the first book, the more power you have, the less choices you can make, until you no longer have choices, only the duty to do what you're meant to do. Lowly witches could send away the rain, but Ogion chose not to. An in-game mechanic supporting this (besides the increased risk of tax) may be useful.

    The nine Masters of Roke are Namer, Hand, Herbal, Chanter, Changer, Doorkeeper, Windkey, Summoner and Patterner. Finder, whose purpose was to find the wizards to found the school, didn't stay after Medra took the office of Doorkeeper.

    Regarding the Naming skill, I like the idea of granting automatic success if the skill reaches a certain threshold, for generic names like plants of animals, as you couldn't imagine someone spending years learning a language and not being able to say "pigeon hawk" or "merlin" in that language. But what would be the point of learning these names if falco or even birds would suffice? I am thinking that having specific names is more useful than generic ones, and that the quality of the naming could be a cap on the power of the spell. Like if you know the specific name of someone, you can control him totally with a spell, while you can only hold him immobile for a short while if you only know it's a human. No precedent for this in the books, though... Only that they try to know the exact names of people, so it must be useful in some way. Maybe, given that Summoning and Changing are set apart from the other teachings, they can only be used with exact true names?

    Finding the name of something must be possible by the Naming skill, but knowing a lot about said thing should help. As Ogion said, knowing how a plant, its seeds, its flowers etc. looks like is more important to know its usefulness to men, because it's the way to know its name. I would make that Obscure Knowledge skill, something you study under the Master Chanter, is a valid fork for Naming when used to guess the name of something.

    Besides, there are examples of spells affecting more than a single target, since it's mentionned several times in the book that to cast a spell on the whole sea, you'd have to know the name of each single droplet of water, sea, or bay of the world. So it's possible, even if it's amazingly difficult and require a great deal of naming (and probably time to recite the names).

    The summoning presented in the magic burner could be used as is, because summoning the Old Powers is something that even confirmed mages are wary to do: they fear spirit retribution...

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