Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sorcery World

This is the first of three worlds, three sets of minimal setting assumptions that support three different uses of my spell lists. The rules are compatible with most old-school clones and systems, and are capable of "mix and match" to some extent between worlds. I'll present them with minimal explanation and have a word about them afterwards.

Oparian Flaming God Human Sacrifice Ritual -- © 1918, ERB Inc.

The Universe
You dwell on a mote of order, floating in a sea of Primal Nothingness and dancing in a web of a million planes of existence. The Lords of Law hold their palaces in idealized, peaceful outer planes, and seek to defend the world against the Lords of Chaos. Those dread entities swarm from a myriad of hells, and seek at all times to relax the laws of nature and logic, making the world less predictable.

The World
Humanity is a cruel infant, crawling on the ruined pavements of the world's former masters. The Lords of Law and Chaos are known; some ignore them, some worship them, some strike bargains with them in the delusion they are equals. Those races, empires and kingdoms that follow Law or Chaos differ in style, but Law is not a guarantee of kindness or justice. Indeed, the extreme of Law is as harmful to human progress as the extreme of Chaos is to human well-being.

The alignments of Law and Chaos exist, as well as unaligned status; unholy and holy status is also important for certain spell effects. Demonic creatures from the hells of Chaos, as well as intelligent undead, are always Chaotic and unholy, while the unintelligent undead are merely unholy. The servants of the Lords of Law are Lawful and holy.

Mortal beings can take on Lawful or Chaotic alignment, but these represent strong oaths and commitments to one side of the cosmic struggle, with no restrictions on behavior except this: Lawful and Chaotic beings do not associate with or aid beings known to have the opposite alignment, unless forced to. Breaking this restriction makes you unaligned. A being can change alignment twice in a lifetime, after which any further changes are to unaligned status, as he or she is proven forever inconstant and faithless.

The Lords of Law and Chaos are worshipped, as are numerous other godlings, demons, and unaligned Powers. Should one of these deities deign to speak to humanity - if indeed the deity exists, for many of these cults are frauds - it will send an avatar, who can only exist on this world for a short amount of time. These summonings are responsible for much of the strange sorceries that fall outside the list of spells commonly available to players.

Being a priest is not a character class but a social occupation, like being a mercenary or merchant. Priests in a religion, or those pretending to be priests, wear distinctive garb and often study sorceries related to their deity's interests. They are often bound to a particular temple or subject to a hierarchy.

Spellcaster Classes
There is one main spellcasting class, the magic-user. Elves (using Basic-derived rules) are a class with moderate fighting abilities and the spellcasting abilities of a magic-user one level lower. Magic-users can be of any alignment, reflecting the debate as to whether sorcery is inherently Lawful or Chaotic.

The standard magic-user can know all spells from the complete, twelve-color list; by "known" it is meant that a known spell is written down in the caster's possession. Spells known start with a randomly determined power spell (roll d10) and two standard spells, plus one standard spell per bonus point from Intelligence. On gaining a character level, the magic-user gains an additional random spell of a level he or she can memorize, assuming time spent in a suitable training location. Spells may also be gained by exchange with other magic-users.

How many spells per day can be memorized is found in the Magic-User Spell Allowances table. Memorizing a full complement of spells for the day takes two hours, regardless of level, and requires study from one's spellbooks or scrolls where known spells are kept . Each spell memorized at any one time must have a different title; there is no duplication of spells allowed. Once cast, a memorized spell is expended and that "slot" may not be refilled with another spell until the magic-user has had a good night's sleep.

A magic-user with exceptional Intelligence can memorize additional spells - at +1 bonus point an additional 1st level spell, at +2 the 1st level spell plus a 2nd level spell when of high enough level to memorize such spells, and at +3 a 1st, 2nd and 3rd level spell.

Specialist magic-users have attended a school or studied in a priesthood dedicated to one particular color of magic. The cost of this is they are unable to know, memorize or use spells from some of the other color. The benefit is that they automatically learn all spells of their colorwhen they reach a level at which they can use them. Some specialisms have alignment restrictions.

Starting specialists also begin with a random 1st level standard spell from one of the other allowable colors (roll until one comes up). They gain another random usable spell of the highest level they can cast when they reach a character level that does not give them a new spell level.

Finally, there are benefits to specializing that apply to the effects of certain spells. These benefits, and the colors not learned for each specialism, are shown in the Specialist Schools table.

Next post: tables and spell listing for Sorcery World.

1 comment:

  1. I'm intersting in seeing where this experiment goes.