X Long per level works really well for level based systems. But we get your drift.
I was thinking about faux gems created magically. These stones would allow you to invest in the future, by spending a great deal of manna to have some extra. So you spend 50 manna and create a "colorless" manna crystal of 5 manna.
This should only be used in a game system that can support research/ project tasks, or campaigns that have a lot of downtime.
This same ability could have other uses. Youu could invest a great deal of manna and upgrade a gem. Not from mundane (poor) to empowered (high quality), but to store additional energies in the gem for future use. Go to Comment
Thanks for the suggestions Strolen. There are a whole lot of ideas/questions in there, a few of which I had thought of before but the majority of which I hadn't. I'll see where I go with trying to answer them, whilst simultaneously updating my world pack to incorporate the things I'd never considered! (I'll be replying to them in a fairly random order).
I agree by the way about the similarities to your Aros system - I hadn't noticed it the first time I read it, but upon rereading it there definitely is: particularly in the rarity of the gems/sand and also in the linking each one with a magical domain.
First a few simple points.
i) Quality of gems. Only flawless (or practically flawless - I guess on the molecular scale any gem has some discontinuities but I basically mean ones a jeweller would call "flawless") gems are suitable for magic. This has two effects. Firstly it dramatically cuts down the number of gems around (adding to the rarity). Secondly it means that gems unsuitable for magic but still of good quality are still used extensively in jewellery. Naturally you have to have a good knowledge of gems to tell the difference, which ties in with some later points.
ii) Yes, size does make a difference. I wasn't actually clear about this above, but the mana gain figures I was quoting above were for 1 "unit" There is a certain (reasonably large) minimum size for a gem to be any use at all (this varies from gem to gem and is the size of "1 unit". My gemstone tables actually have sub tables coming from them regarding size. If you've found a ruby (above the minimum size and of suitable quality for magic) there are random tables to roll on to determine how big it is (with the most common size being 1 unit of course, and bigger ones getting rarer). For game simplicity I assume that gems only come in whole or half integer sizes.
iii) A destroyed gem disintegrates in to nothing. It is not possible to use only part of a gem - you have to use all of it at once. If you, for example, were using a 2unit onyx in a spell that had a component of 1 onyx, you couldn't use just half the gem. Instead what would happen is that you would use 1 unit of the onyx as a spell component and the other 1 would give you mana (meaning you might actually gain mana from casting the spell!). Note that you can't use more than 1 gem in a spell to boost its power unless the spell specifically says you can do this. For this reason, small (i.e. 1 unit) gems are actually more useful, so most wizards, upon finding a large one, might well get it cut (or cut it themselves) in to smaller gems.
Now on to more interesting/difficult questions. Regarding diamond mines and the like. I really hadn't given them enough thought before. Let's see what I can make of it. Fortunately, it can tie in quite well with history of my world. It has been civilised for several thousand years and is currently in the second of two "highly developed" periods (highly developed meaning c. 17th century technology (but no gunpowder) and the "science" of magic being fairly well developed. The previous period (which ended about 1400 years ago) was meant to have had a much more highly developed magic system.
This would fit in very well with availability of gems: in the first period, as it was the first time people were so developed, all the mines had a lot of gems in. Magic was thus very plentiful. Now, gems are much rarer. All the mines have been largely worked out. Naturally, some gems are still found in them, but not that many. Therefore, magic is much lower. Also, as I want for my current game play purposes, gems are very rare. Of course, this also implies that magic will continually gradually decline (though will persist for a long time, as it would take a long time to completely work out gem deposits and also as gems become rarer, they will be used less as they're more valuable. Maybe wizards are trying to research a way of using gems of slightly lesser quality?).
Yes, all gem mines are strictly controlled by the government (one government or another that is). Regarding a wizard taking over a mine and building a fortress - if he can do this and establish himself in enough power to stop a neighbouring kingdom from defeating him then by definition he is a government (though there is a possibility of a wizard finding a new and minor isolated deposit of gems).
Regarding governments regulating sale of gemstones. They didn't before I read your post but they do now. This means working (even temporarily) for a government has an added perk if you're a wizard. I like the idea of having to check in your gemstones before you enter. Of course, if you're good at bluffing you might be able to persuade the guard they were just high quality ornamental gems (particularly if disguised in a ring or suchlike).
It makes a lot of sense that kingdoms would stockpile gems for war. It also means that wars are some of the few times when the two power of magic is unveiled.
Better mining technology. I hadn't even considered this, but it seems like an eminently plausible idea. I think I'll have to research mining a bit.
All wizards are master jewellers. Yes and no. Certainly all wizards would be expert at identifying gems but I don't see that it would necessarily follow that they would all be expert craftsmen at cutting them/putting them in jewellery etc. (though they might well have some minor skills at this). This would take a lot of time which they could be devoting to studies. Some probably would be of course, so the point about any jeweller being potentially a wizard is true, and one I haven't been making as much of as I could in my world. This decision is actually represented (partially) in my guild system. The two obvious guilds for a wizard to join (if he joins a guild) are the wizard's guild and the jeweller's guild. Both of them of course require certain skills etc. and you need to work your way up from apprentice etc. which takes some devotion. The jeweller's guild gives you quite a lot of bonuses with regarding purchasing gems at lower prices and also bonuses on rarity searches. On the other hand, the wizard's guild gives you things directly related to spell craft such as the possibility of learning spells of other races, more mana as well as more prestige amongst wizards.
The black market. Yes, definitely. The rarity rules incorporate buying things on the black market and if you do this you essentially double your chance (sometimes more, sometimes less) of finding something. Cooperating between a wizard and a thief in a party can be very useful. Buying things on the black market can cause a loss of honour for honourable characters (honour system is quite complex and I won't go in to it here).
I like the idea that suspicious governments might try to track "civilian" wizards purchasing top gems. I can think of missions based around one gem-poor country trying to purchase gems subtly in other countries in preparation for a war with a neighbouring gem-poor country. Go to Comment
Wow - lots and lots of good ideas! I definitely like the idea about uncut gems not giving as much mana as cut ones; perhaps 20-25% or something sounds about right. Another possibility you could have with lots of gems together (which could be used in conjunction with or instead of the original suggestions) would be problems with resonance. Presuming the means of channeling magic through/out of gems is something to do with the crystal structure vibrating (as Manfred was saying), if you have a large number of gems together you could accidentally cause them to resonate, with unpredictable results. The situation would be even worse with uncut gems, as due to the irregularities they would resonate at a variety of different frequencies. An unskilled wizard who tried to cast a spell in a gem mine, therefore, would probably just set off a huge magical explosion. Naturally, better wizards would be better at avoiding this, but there will always be some fundamental limitations (imposed by Fourier theory, if nothing else) in how accurately you can "tune in" to the gem you want to use, so there should always be some risk if there are too many gems (I'm talking in the 100s here).
The idea of mines being the haunt of magical creatures is also brilliant. Presumably miners would have developed techniques of dealing with them, and would treat them like any other risk, but to non-miners, dealing with them would seem very dangerous. The gems attracting magical creatures would only prevent stock-piling in certain worlds, depending on how big a threat these are. In mine, in the majority of the kingdoms the land is very well pacified and people worry about monsters attacking about as much as 19th century Europeans worried about wolves and bears. It would probably stop a stock pile in a frontier region though.
Manfred, I love the society of Simple wizardry!
The royal regalia would indeed be a source of real power. Probably only a king (or an extremely wealthy lord) could afford to have flawless gems as jewellery, given how valuable they are to wizards. Though he couldn't use them (unless he was a wizard himself), he could get his court wizard to imbue spells in them, for one off use in case of emergencies. A crown with five gems might well have: Diamond - very powerful shield; Ruby - very powerful fireball; Emerald - "Benevolent Aura"; Sapphire - arc lightning and Pearl - "Water of Life" (powerful healing spell). He might also wear a ring inset with "True Sight" or "See truth" or the like. It would make assassination considerably harder. It would also mean the crown jewels would be far more valuable than they are normally.
Regarding stockpiling and the comparisons with nukes - yes, there is certainly a comparison with the general idea, but the gems (even in large quantities) don't give that sort of power (at least in my system). This is because the gems are used as components in spells rather than just for blasting pure energy at people, and even the most powerful spells don't let you destroy a city - they might let you blast a breach in a wall or obliterate a company of cavalry, but that is all (having a lot of gems just lets you do this more times, and more frequently). A powerful, developed kingdom with lots of gems, fighting one with no magic would be like 1850 European technology fighting 1300 European technology. As a result, in my world there is colonialism but no mutually assured destruction.
Another thing of course - remember spells only produce short-term affects. In other words, no matter how many gems/mana you have, you can't wrap yourself in shields the whole time. This means even the best wizard is vulnerable to a surprise attack - one arrow can kill them as fast as anyone else. Gems also don't let you cast spells any faster. My PCs once took down a powerful wizard (much to my annoyance, as it meant I suddenly had to improvise a new plot!) who was supposedly impossible for them to kill by simultaneous attacks and distractions from all directions. Though he killed a couple of them, he could focus and cast a spell one way and look behind him at the same time.
Just had another thought. One minor thing that could limit the use of magic in warfare is the matter of trust - you have to trust your wizards quite a lot before you start handing them out clusters of diamonds. Perhaps there might be only a few who were trusted with the more powerful ones, while the majority of wizards just used onyx, amber and the like to perform minor battlefield roles (fireballs, scrying, etc.) These few major wizards would (i) be key to a battle and thus have to be very well protected and (ii) incredibly useful as traitors.
Strolen, yes it makes much more sense for wizards to have their gems in wands/rings etc. It would stop any scrabbling around in a bag to find the right gem. Not anyone can learn wizardry (though I guess you could change that if you wanted). Gems can't make up for lack of skill - they make up for lack of power. If you don't know any powerful fire spells, rubies won't help you cast them - all you'll be able to do is drain them for mana. An experienced mage with no gems could thus probably beat a novice one with lots just because the older ones knows far more spells.
Actually, this makes the Society of Simple Wizardry have even more potential. Spared of the need to look for gems, learn jewellery skills etc., its members have more time to learn spells. A mage in the Society would specialise in knowing comparitively minor, little-known spells to counter the more powerful ones cast by gems. Though they would still be able to be defeated by a gem-using mage of equivalent level, they would probably have an advantage against the same mage if, for some reason, he was bereft of gems.
"Can any gem restore any mana lost from any spell in the wizard?" Yes. Personal mana is non-domain specific. If you use it, any gem can restore it (though it is, of course, better to use the gems as components).
Manfred yes, you're right: amber and jade aren't linked to anything good. Amber is the secondary gem of power (minor shields, minor summonings, detect magic, etc.) and jade isn't linked to anything - it just gives you a pittance of mana.
Yes, choosing gems is very much a challenge to pick the right ones. The decisions also come in to choosing which spells to learn as well. After all, do you choose a powerful spell that, due to the rarity of its gem components you'll only be able to cast a couple of times a year, or do you choose to learn a much weaker spell can be used all the time? Most medium level wizards end up specialising in a 2-3 of the 8 domains (for the more powerful spells) as it is really unfeasibly for mages below the most powerful and wealthiest to consistently find and buy gems in all the domains. Go to Comment
That makes sense Moonhunter. Of course, if they were put in rings etc., they wouldn't necessarily be in gold or silver (unless you were the king): a simple crude ring of iron or bronze would be just as useful, as well as cheaper. Go to Comment
Incidentally, regarding gems being taken at the door like weapons, gems are a lot smaller than the average sword, so a wizard could almost certainly hide them about their body in various places. Maybe, whilst some places just leave it to honesty, a few top security places insist on full body searches (for everyone as you can't necessarily tell a wizard on looking). Go to Comment
Yes, I like the turning to dust thing too - it seems better than my original idea of them just vanishing. The magic detection at the door reminds me of metal detectors at airports!
Regarding physical touch - yes, I have them so they have to touch it (or at least be touching something that the gems are touching (e.g. you could have a ring on your finger with a gem in - your fingers would be touching the band, not the actual gem but this would still be OK). The blowing up a mine by being in the vicinity was just my speculative build on potential problems caused by lots of gems together - i.e. when surrounded by lots of uncut gems you could accidentally cause them to resonate wildly and blow up if you cast magic around - however, you wouldn't be able to use them controllably from a distance as this would require too much fine tuning and precise direction of the magic.
I just had a thought - if two mages were fighting, one could perhaps leap at the other and grapple him. If he got his hands on the other mages gems (if they were in a ring, etc.) he could potentially use them. Go to Comment
Regarding necromancers and blood stones, I actually have some sub-rules for them which I hadn't bothered posting up. Let me know if this is anything like what you were thinking of Moonhunter.
I have it that Bloodstones can't be formed by just killing people and draining the life-force - though I toyed with the idea, I found it impossible to balance - one evil mage in an isolated area could quickly produce gems in the hundreds. Instead, bloodstones are formed by the last drops of blood "crystallising" when any draconic creature (including dragons, wyverns, basilisks, firedrakes, anything else you have in your world) is killed in a way that involves bleeding. This makes them also a rare commodity; however, if you're willing to use these as well as normal gems, you still get a large advantage (as you have twice as big a pool to pick gems from). As you said, this gives evil magic users an advantage. Bloodstones are also, in general, more powerful: the mana range is from 5 to 40 instead of from 2 to 30. The bloodstone from a wyvern (a standard opponent for mid-level adventurers) is worth 20 mana, as much as a ruby, sapphire or emerald.
About the only disadvantage that evil mages face is a lack of dark spells in which to use bloodstones. After all, all spells must have, at some point, been researched and over history there have been far more wizards researching "good" spells than the numbers who have been researching evil necromancy.
There is, of course, a large black market in bloodstones. Given their use simply for mana, many wizards, even those not dabbling in necromancy, would find them useful. Similarly, adventurers who have just killed a wyvern are likely to see little wrong with selling on the bloodstone. The fact remains though that use of bloodstones is still blood magic and thus innately evil - it will tarnish the soul of any who use them and cause them to lose honour. (Another point - most of these draconic creatures are intelligent or semi-intelligent).
Yes, I have all magic items have a gem in them to set the spell, as you say. For ones which the spell then just shoots out, no mana needs to be spent (this lets them be used by non-mages). Though, if you had everyone having mana as you were suggesting then you of course could have the activation cost have mana.
I think the idea of a magic user having to make a few moments of study of a gem to use it makes sense. Naturally he wouild probably do this in private so he could then use it instantly when he wanted to, but wouldn't be able to instantly use a gem he picked up off a dead enemy. You could still have grapples for gems, if you make the time about 10s or so.
Gem grenades - very neat! I hadn't thought of that. Presumably you'd still need line of sight to the gem in order to send the final "activate now" command. Go to Comment
Yes, the faux gem idea is a great one. Your suggested cost of 10:1 sounds about right - expensive, especially if it has to be all in one go as Strolen said, but not quite prohibitively so. A suggested mechanism for it:
maybe, rather than just creating a gem "out of nothing", maybe the mana you spend is used to smooth out the molecular flaws in an "almost flawless" gem, turning it in to a flawless one suitable for magic. The 10:1 cost would mean that it was virtually impossible to create any but the least powerful gems using this method (so it's not going to be any good for making spell components), but for just creating some mana stores it would be quite good. Doing this means you would, of course, have to buy an actual "almost flawless" gem (but a jade or zircon unsuitable for magic will hardly break the bank). I could imagine students of a wizard having to create these in their spare time in exchange for lessons.
The attuning thing sounds good. I think your time scale seems a bit long Strolen - I would be tempted to make it minutes rather days, and a level 10 mage might be able to attune himself to less powerful gems in the matter of 10s or so. The basic idea of it taking longer to attune yourself to a gem if a powerful mage had it before sounds good though, as does the dependence on the length of time the mage had done before. I think it should be possible for more than one wizard to attune to the same gem (though this might take more time).
Back on the subject of how a mage carries his gems: a further advantage to putting them in something big such as a staff (despite the hassle of actually putting them there) rather than a ring or a bag is it makes it a lot harder for them to be stolen by pickpockets. On the other hand, it's rather hard to sneak a staff around, but if the gems are lose/in a ring you could easily conceal that. I guess most wizards would go for a mixture of both.
Those ideas of ways in which you could protect your gems are nice Manfred. To add another: as you can imbue spells in gems (which can then be cast instantaneously), you could always keep a couple of gems with spells imbued in them and then ward them in some way so that no-one could tell (they could tell they were magical, but then they would be - they're gems). If an enemy wizard tries to grapple you and use that one then just think the final command and, "Boom!" it goes off in his face. Obviously most of your gems won't have spells imbued in them (as you'll want to use them), but if most wizards began carrying a few warded ones around like this it would add a lot more risk to the gem-grabbing tactic: maybe it would only be used as a last resort.
I like the idea of a "curse" on some gems (though think it might be better on the gems rather than on the person) and agree it shouldn't be widely available. Weird magical accidents seem the best explanation for this, though perhaps some people (and certainly a god) would be able to duplicate the conditions. Perhaps the effect gradually fades with time, like radioactivity.
The ruby sceptre could be made less munchkinish by making it take time to recharge. To add a touch of chance, maybe the more you use it, the more unstable the gems get (though they settle in time), and the greater the chance it will blow up. Several large rubies going off at once in sympathy with a fire spell should be fairly devastating. It should have some amount of use without any danger, but shoot several high powered fire spells through it in an hour and even if you survive, it might take a week or more to settle. Say, one medium fireball equivalent (naturally channeled in to a super ray) per day recovery rate? Another disadvantage is that it should be quite hard to aim - I doubt people will be practiced at this sort of weapon. If you get good of course, it would have superb accurary, but it would take you quite a lot of practice (which of course takes quite a lot of time, due to the recovery rate) to get really good.
Shapes of gems making different effects - personally, I wouldn't use this in spells (as my spells are fairly fixed and un-freeform) but could be used to nice effect in magical objects (e.g. presumably the Ruby Sceptre would have nice pointy ones).
Incidentally, I definitely agree with Manfred about how it's great that all sorts of strategies and then counter-strategies keep coming up here. My players are going to find the magic scene fairly transformed in their next game! Go to Comment
I like this a lot. It reminds me of several things though, which is why I did not add the final .5 for originality. First of all it, errr, reminded me of Diablo and the significance of gems in that setting. Second it reminded me of several fantasy authors and their approach to magic.
In any case: This is a very good magic system. Magic in your world is like fossil fuel in ours: Depletable. Besides: Them princesses and their tiaras will never be safe again ;)
Brave adventuring bodyguard wizard: "I must insist milady, let me borrow your necklace! Perhaps I can get these raiders off our tail"
Fair but Pouty Princess: "Never! I'd rather die!"
B.a.b.w.: "Then we'll probably do just that!"
I feel almost evil for not awarding the last .5 by the way. I feel like a ghoul kicking puppies :o (I do the same whenever I get a feeling of deja vu reading stuff, no matter how good) Go to Comment
Millenia ago the Gods changed how the mystical forces on the world were governed and used. No longer were the mortals able to pluck the power from the very air and use it. So they altered it, thinking the mortals were not clever enough to find a way to use it again. The God's crystalized magic. Placed the power in the four elements of the world. Now mortals did indeed determine a way to use magic again, albeit at a much lower proficiency. Magic users now require a focus staff made of the very essence of magic. These crystal staves store the mysticalenergies required to cast spells, needing to be recharged over time. The magic users scribe, etch, or carve the spells symbols directly on the staves and focus the energy through the symbols.
Now with the change in how magic worked a way was needed to create scrolls. Instead of the traditional paper, parchment, papryus, or skin and leather made scrolls a new way was found very similar to the focus staves.
Spell crystals were created.
These small 1" to 2" geometric cubes have the spell symbols etched directly on the crystals. When the spell is cast the crystals shatters into motes of fine dust and the spell activated, using up all the mystical energies within the crystals. The number of sides determine the potency of the actual spell crystals.
The cube (6 sides), the octahedron (8 sides), tetrahedron (4 sides) are the most common. They only have enough stored energy to have the most basic and general spells etched into their sides. The more complex spell crystals such as the dodecahedron (12 sides) and the icosahedron (20 sides) can hold far more energies and have far more complicated and powerful spells etched on their sides.
Propably the most sought after spell crystals is the truncated tetrahedron (8 sides). This odd shaped crystals is smaller than the rest but seems to be able to hold twice as much energies than the more complicated crystals. Another effect of this crystals is that it is the only one that does not shatter and destroy itself when it is used. These spell crystals can be used over again. The extent, if they have one, to which they can be used is unknown. There have only been eight of these odd crystals reportly seen and used in the last few centuries of the spell crystals use. They are highly coveted and lusted after by the magic community.
The spell crystals allow for far easier use and transport than of the traditional magic scrolls. They do not succumb to weather effects and are light weight and very easy to carry multiple crystals.
I changed this to have magic a little less prominent. It is very difficult to find the required material to make the spell crystals, and they do not run at a cheap price at an apothecary. Because of this they are coveted by those without the knowledge to create them. Go to Comment
Love the idea, and the others ideas that others have added to this scroll. Despite my attraction to the idea,, I have things already plotted out in my head that I'm using on my fantasy campaign world.
I do have ideas however... what about some way for nonmages to tell what spell is 'imbued' into the spell? (Mostly so they can sell gems with simple spells instead of requiring mages man the stalls at the bazaar. Like some shapeshifting of the gem so it's shows a pattern relating to the spell that's inside it. Also I'd like some way for the mage to see a visualization of the effects as well as a description of the effects, specifically when the spells go to a magical market.) Go to Comment
The problem with the jump to 100 of a unit is with the assumptions you've made with this culture at the most basic level. We live in a decimal world, wherein powers of 10 mean something important to us by denoting orders of magnitude. Since you've spelled out that this culture has developed a base 8 system, and the units rigidly correspond to this system up to a certain point, this presents somewhat of a problem. This is because, anthropologically speaking, the number 100 would mean nothing to these people. Rather, to designate a jump of two orders of magnitude, the number 64 would be more suitable (or the base 8 equivalent, which I don't want to take the time to determine). Your choice of such a jump would be like a the metric system being "100 centimeters is a meter, but instead of 1000 meters to a kilometer, lets make it 512 (8^3 instead of 10^3)." For a system built on a specific base number and measurements being base number multiples of the previous unit (ala the metric system as opposed to the English system), it only makes sense (to my mathematically inclined mind) to continue in multiples of 8. Sorry for my longwindedness Go to Comment
Great article. Thank you very much for sharing. Yet another thing I find I neglect in my games. I am a horrible DM.
The easiest way that I do it is just call the distance by time. Judge it on a brisk walk or a horse's trot (now, again, we have differences in breeds and or races) and we have 1/2 days journey or would take till midmorning or 2 days and till breakfast type distances.
Could also make the distances based on landmarks. Say the distance from the Glory rock and the Chair of the King is about 2 miles so that can be translated to 1 Glory.
"It be 5 glorys to the next town" type thing. Could use any great landmarks for that or use many different types.
"It be 2 glorys and a chapel to get there." Could have some fun with that. Might be some universals but maybe each region has adopted their own measurements.
Anyway, I now have a dream of putting together all these great articles into something I can use as reference for world building so I don't miss a trick. Go to Comment
Some intriguing ideas, Iain! I think in a fantasy world the differences between systems of measurement would be even more exaggerated. For instance, a hobbit mile would be less than a human mile which would be less than a giants' mile. Also, some creatures, like trolls, have difficulty counting because they're so thick, so their system of measurement might be less easy to follow...
Hathalfar holds the writhing troll down with his gloved fist and sword. The beast squirms at the touch of metal. "How far is Kolm?" he demands for the third time. "I said! A long way away," replies the troll.
Despite their inability to quantify distance, trolls are nevertheless very good at judging it. Their small minds cannot cope with the metaphor of describing lengths with numbers. They simply have a good intuitive grasp.
# "Near" corresponds to ~ 20m
# "Not far" corresponds to ~ 1km
# "A fair way" corresponds to ~ 5km
# "Quite far" corresponds to ~ 10km
# "A good walk" corresponds to ~ 30km
# "A long way away" corresponds to ~ 100km
# "As far as the eye can see" varies with visibility
So a city that's about 150km away would be described as being "A long way away and then a good walk after that" which isn't too useful till you know how trolls think about distance... Go to Comment