I had read the opening post, Iain, however, there'd been a bit more floating around in my head.
One of the better implementations I've played with of the 'legend creates power' concept is that presented by the Earthdawn system. Abstracting away from numbers, character growth and magic item use works roughly like this:
As you adventure, you gain a reputation(Legend). You gain power to fit the Legend. An item that you use, and importantly, name, is a part of your legend. To use someone else's item, you must first: 1: Learn the legends around it. 2: Make the item a part of /your/ legend. (In game effects, you have to spend the equivalent of exp.) Items also have levels of effect - your ability to use the item is based on how much it's been incorporated into your legend. If barely, it will only grant minor powers. If greatly, then major powers.
As a quick example of how this works: My character, an Archer, had a bow. This character also had a GM granted quirk of being adept with fire. My bow was simply 'my bow', but in the act of carving the bow with runes, we made it unique from any other bow, in essence giving it a name. Now, my character has settled down, and started playing Adam to a race of people with power over fire. In five hundred yaears, someone finds my character's bow. It will, eventually, grant him great accuracy and let him ignite arrows with a bonus. However, first he must learn my character's True Name, and the name of my adventuring troupe. (Ayn la Mira, Bleeding Roses) To access the next level of the bows power, he must find out how I joined the Bleeding Roses. The next, he must find out how I cured my Horror Marking. For the final level of the bow's power, he must find out the name of the Horror that Marked me, where the 'final showdown' was, and who actually struck the finishing blow.
Now, obviously, this is system dependant, but it provides a relatively system balanced method of bringing legend and deed to the forefront over ritual magic and 'sword +1'. Go to Comment
To me, this thread also has a similar feel to CaptainPenguins' Boots Too Fine for the Earth. Or my The Art of Healing
The boots are simply... so good... that they refuse to touch the ground. This is due to the many years love and care that Firefly River used to make it. Perhaps that care rubbed off into it to give it its properties. That may be how you could explain these heroic items, as non-enchanted magic. Perhaps you can go even further, and say that this is what TRUE magic is. Enchantments and spells are just a simple imitation. A shadow of this.
Heroic items like these won't lose their enchantments with some spell cast on it, like enchanted items might. They are more permament.
So examples in the citadel are such as The Sadist Dagger, Boots too fine for the earth and The art of healing. Go to Comment
Yes, they're all good examples in the items thread: I hadn't read the Sadist Dagger before. Another good example is Siren's latest post: "Hill breaker" which, as well as other things we've mentioned, only has magic effects if the person believes in the legend (I'm not sure if he read this post before doing that item or if it's just coincidence!).
A few more random riffs on the idea (some of which are unfortunately mutually exclusive).
I definitely agree with Manfred that 5 mediocre fighters shouldn't be able to cumulatively produce an excellent weapon! But maybe you don't actually have to be powerful, just brave for some things? e.g. a peasant who takes up a spear to rescue his children and by luck kills some trained fighters could maybe make it could. Probably the highest bonuses shouldn't be given this way.
Maybe the person who created it only gets half the bonus that someone else does. After all, I'm sure Moonhunter was more inspired by using Willy Mays' bat than Willy Mays is: after all, it's normal to him. You could have some sort of sliding scale that the more powerful you are, the less bonuses you get (though you would always get an added bonus for it being your own personal weapon if you'd carried it for years).
Maybe you only get the bonuses if you know who's it is. This would mean that the power of these items would fade in time as the memory of the deeds of their owners faded.
Unfortunately, these ideas are mutually exclusive with Shadoweagle's suggestion that this is what TRUE magic is, with enchantments and things just an imitation. If this was the case then although spell-crafters could probably make very powerful items (e.g. swords with massive to hit bonus), they would usually lack the finesse and subtlety of the powers of these heroic items: in the same way that nowadays we can construct huge buildings/fly faster (in aeroplanes) than the fastest bird but our best chemical catalysts are still in the stone age compared with most enzymes.
You might even get penalties if you were using an item that belonged to a person from an enemy country who you thought of as evil. Go to Comment
I find this topic has a vague echo or parallel even with the system I am using in Aros so I have more then a passing interest in this. My isn't very detailed but the general principles remain.
Great system by the way and I very much think I am going to be *stealing* a few of your ideas. I have not though heavily about imbuing the powers into items but....anyway...
The problem I had, and I think it is a problem with this too, is the nature of diamond mines, or any other mines. It is common for veins or limited areas to be naturally in high concentration of diamonds and other precious gems. What prevents a wizard from taking over this area and building a fortress? I have that dilemna too, I limited it slightly by having the pockets small and diversified, although I suppose that could be done with yours as well though with only a little explaining.
Kings would probably be trying to stock up on these as much as possible, like we (did) stock nukes as a deterrent and in case of war. Those who control the diamonds control strength in power and in money/trade. So the fact that only a few gems are available could be as much a factor of the economy and ruler as it could their scarcity. That would also lead me to believe there would be a heavy heavy blackmarket in them which may open a whole other world of gem trading and expense. Their are probably little unregulated mines out there that are able to steadily supply blackmarkers the gems whereas the official mines (that haven't been taken over by wizards ) controlled by the king mostly go into the coffers and only a few make it to the free market.
In some places gems, like swords, might be not allowed to enter and must be 'checked' at the door. Perhaps in some places where you buy them it is like a background check here. They take down a lot of information about the wizard in an attempt to track 'civilian' wizards purchasing diamonds because of the threat they may pose. I would think there would be a lot of technology and resources into better mining, and perhaps even a rudimentary strip mining but this leads me to wanting to know A LOT more about the world. It is obvious to me that wizards would also end up being master jewelers so any jeweler very well may be a wizard...maybe...?
I have another question with the size of the gems. It is generically stated that such and such gem gives such and such mana. I would have to assume that each stone would give a certain amount of mana as determined by its carat size, no? A 1 carat diamond would give X amount of mana but a 40 carat jade would also hold X amount of mana. And if this is true would the quality of the gem also come into play?
And if that is true then you would not only have to have the correct type of gem for certain spells, you would also have to have certain carat sizes....or perhaps the spell only requires that gem but the size determines the power. So I could cast a small fireball that maybe only destroys a door with a small gem or I could destroy a castle wall with a huge gem of the same type....
What happens to the destroyed gem? Explodes into nothing? Gem dust? Dust still cool looking or useful for anything? Mixed with weapons? Used as a glistening whitewash on the richies house? Go to Comment
If I was a wizard and took over a mine, I would have plenty of neophyte wizards pounding at my door begging to cut gems for me in return for a few for themselves. I would be doing what I want if I owned the mine. I think implying that he would cut his own gems is like saying that he will mine them at all. I think if they found a mother of all gems, he may want to cut that one himselfe, but all the others....I am sure he would have a loyal (?) army of wizards doing the grunt work and everybody makes out by the situation. More wizards = more protection = no worries about rival kingdoms so much = all the gems they basically keep for themselves and there will be an understood system of distribution/payment. Ideal circumstances anyway. That is my thought on that.
I think the idea of underground creatures feeding off of them is a grand idea. Yet another reason why they are so rare. Perhaps dragons (or other monsters) live off them instead of subteranean beasts. They need them to fly or something, so anybody that has a mine or stockpile is under the immediate risk of magical creatures deciding they need your gems. All kingdoms that stockpile would be under the constant threat of attack and so maybe stockpiling doesn't happen except in very small quantities. If a king decided to use their magic they could pretty much do anything and would probably destroy the world if there weren't some kind of limits. Gem Holocaust.
The quantity of stones causing anti-magic is a GREAT limiting factor so you don't have indestructable mages running around. I couldn't think of a balancing factor for the stockpiling and that one solves it well.
Both the above ideas I used for my sands. Quantities of sand attract the Horde therefore making them very dangerous places to be. Sandmages can only carry a limited amount...because that is the nature of the sands. Both things if not solved cause some problems.
Brainstorming some more on Moonhunter...the "magic rich" environment. When he said "free floating magic creatures" I immediately thought if two powerful wizards carrying the perfect balance of gems that is near or just under the max they can carry before anti-magic come into play, if they come together instead of the combined power of the gems of both sending them over the top into anti-magic it could be an almost Highlander effect. Robes billowing, winds pick up whipping up stones and such, lightning perhaps striking around them. An overall dangerous environment. Another reason to check the gems at the gate.
It is the nature of the two mages with full mana and max gem power that creates the unique effect. This would probably force a rework of everything though, power games and tricking between mages, not wanting to use magic during an adventure to save it for the final confrontational wizard duel, or wanting to not carry max so the events don't happen and accidently harm anybody. Good mages would try and avoid that so limit themselves maybe. Wizard duels: would know the other is not at full strenth if they are at full strength yet the events don't take place so the other one is obviously currently underpowered (but still don't know how powerful they are)....Probably too far out there but I just saw the two wizards meet in storm of spinning gravel and lightning lifting up to the sky where the first few rounds of a magical battle would take place before they came back to the ground to finish the fight.
Maybe, the above scenerio could happen when two magicians are carrying enough gems to make them anti-magic. Any other time a max amount of gems would be anti-magic, but when two wizards with too many gems come together the above reaction happens instead. Perhaps there is an ritual fight that wizards do to solve differences and that is it.....or perhaps kingdoms, instead of killing off their armies in major wars could decide to end it by a glorious mage war. Go to Comment
Oh yeah. That non-gem wizard concept is faaabulous!!
Can anybody learn powers? Can gems make up for lack of skill? I ask these with manfred's comment about the king having perfect gems on his crown. Can the king use it?
So, the magician has all his normal spells that he can cast up to his personal mana. Gems resupply mana and help cast other spells in their realm. Can any gem restore any mana lost from any spell in the wizard?
Going back to the crown idea which hit a chord in me. Wizards would probably not just carry around a bag of gems to use as needed. They would most likely be put into a staff, in their own crown, a wand, or anything, something so that they know exactly where the gem is that they may need. They would probably have the jeweler skill to put new gems in to replace the ones that get destroyed. Only makes sense that their would be a way for the wizards to store them conveniently and easily accessible.
On top of that the gem choice is almost a mental challenge/game/skill to pick the correct or appropriate mix of gems that may change depending on what you are doing. Like a Magic Deck of cards that you can change depending on your strategy. Go to Comment
I am sure it would be relatively easy, if they are required to turn the gems in at the gate, to imbue some door that all have to travel through that would be able to detect the gems somehow. Might be a quantity limit to the magic detection, more then 10 carats or something and it will be detected. Cut down on the large scale entrance of gems but still allow opportunity for smugglers to bring them in and out the gate.
I missed the part where the gems turned to goo. I was going with the thought that they just dissappeared...I like them turning to dust personally.
Do they require physical touch to use the gem or is having them close good enough? I have been going on the assumption of the wizard having to hold or finger them to use them, but now I recall somebody saying they could blow up a mine by casting in the vicinity of gems. Go to Comment
How about gems that have not been handled by mages take X long decreasing per level. Once a mage gets ahold of it he attunes it to himself to make it useable. Once attuned to him he can drop it, leave it, do whatever and it will always be ready for him and him alone.
Another wizard takes a gem that has been attuned by another then it will take X + difference in level of other mage. So a high level mage that attunes himself to a gem in 2 days and he is like level 10 or something. Then if he gives that gem to another mage of the exact same level then it will 2 days for him to attune to it. Give it to a 5th level mage and it will take that mage 5 + 2 = 7 days to attune himself or retune the gem to his tune. Or you could just have it flat, generic time plus the level of mage that it is currently tuned to.
Perhaps holding it on your person longer could increase the time for others to retune. If a mage was carrying a gem since he learned gem magic and died of old age...somebody else getting that gem may never be able to retune it and make it useable...
Thinking a little about the shape of the gems as well. The typical diamond cut has a flat top and a pointy bottom. Could the flat be used as a shotgun effect and the pointy side for a confined laser type effect? Then gems could not only be used for what area of magic they are for, but also for the type of cut they are and what magic it may produce. Go to Comment
The colorless manna crystal would be indestructable right? Not sure if you implied that or not. Maybe not indestructable, but reuseable? The manna used on 'down' days to build these crystals would be pretty darn handy. The max probably should stay at around 5 or else why use any real ones...maybe take more to build the initial colorless gem but still require 50 manna, or whatever, to charge it. Couldn't be accumulative, like using 25 one day and 25 the next, should be charged in a one shot deal to make it harder to do, rarer, and only available to the higher mages.
Interesting concept. Allow me to join the fray... randomly!
The Society Of Simple Wizardry
- a "return to the roots" movement, these mages speak against the use of gems in magic. Sounds like nonsense? While gems do give many advantages to the wizard, they explicitly require their search and considerable funds. Not to be ignored, many wizards become allies (or as they say servants) of governments. Wizardry mingles with politicking, and forces one to hoard gems greedily.
Speaking about high ideals belonging to the art of magic, the group is often laughed about as being good only for the poor mages. (In fact, the members have little wealth, and are often the only way for the simple folk to learn magic.) It is not that rare that an able student earns enough to start using gems, and really does so...
On the other hand, this Society does some research without using gems, and may be good for some interesting discovery outside the "normal" magical development, ie a plot hook.
It is very ironical to me, that in this world the royal insignia (the crown, etc.) become a very real symbol of Power. Exactly, because of the gems fixed into them, and no real monarch would take the flawed ones, right? Thus the loving look of the court wizard may not go to His Majesty, but rather to his wonderful diamonds and other gems...
Note: Combine this with MoonHunter's ideas about that anti-magic and other special effects.
Did anyone mention nukes? I have just realized that a king would carry them on his person all the time! Quite a problem with those creatures that feel attracted, but still, sounds very imperial to me...
I think it might be more interesting if something would remain. It don't have to be shards, dust is quite fine. While dust may be unusable for spellcasting or recharging mana, it makes an interesting clue. If you find diamond dust somewhere, you know this place may not be that safe as it looks! Or something strange happened here. Further, a kind of magical analysis science may be created, the dust giving information on its use and user. (In extreme, it may give some voo-doo powers over the caster... though that may be too much.)
- Gem Assesment or Gem Knowledge would be one of the bases of a mage's skill set, Gem-Cutting probably not (you have to get your hands on a lot of gems first...). But older and more powerful wizards may very well learn it.
- An interesting concept about those "anti-magic" and "pro-magic" fields. A gem contains usually a regular moleclar grid, so it logically can concentrate magic (there is that high-technology thing with rubies and lasers). An uncut gem could thus also focus magic, but the irregularites on its surface make the result chaotic.
Should this be the explanation (hmmm, I love pseudo-science... occasionally), the amorphous (non-crystalline) gems (I think Jade and Amber, but am not sure) may be safe to store en-masse. Pity those are (probably) linked to healing spells and similar non-war effects. Go to Comment
You know, I like how new concepts and strategies, and then counter-strategies are developed here.
Attuning to the gems...
...is it necessary? I think yes and no.
Yes, in so far that a magic user must learn to use every single kind of gem. But the more experience he has, with both gems in general, and this kind of gem, the shorter will the time needed be. Until at some point, a powerful wizard could use any gem in his reach, immediately! So you must wait until it pays off to try wizard wrestling. (It makes sense now to train the wizards in a little unarmed combat... pity they are usually old and bearded at that time... but spells could offset that.)
To prevent that some rival jumps at you, and uses your gems against you, a protective spell could hinder others at controlling your gems (or at least prolonging the time needed for attunement), or a variant of Insect Shield could be used (gives minor damage to creatures that touch you) - enough to break concetration.
Now, could there be a "curse", a chaotic field or something, placed either on a person or gems, that would make using gems dangerous and unpredictable, even cut and flawless ones?
Of course, if widely available, it might spoil the entire system, requiring new counter-spells and whatnot. But there are a few possibilities:
a) A mighty/complicated spell, only very powerful/skilled wizards are able to cast it.
b) It is a priestly spell, ideally coming from a god of magic, or a god with anti-magic agenda.
c) A kind of "irradiation", coming from weird magical accidents, or strange locations.
d) A true curse, placed upon a wizard that has harmed someone enough...
e) A special ability of some strange monster.
Even with those limits implied above, wizards can get really powerful, and it may be necessary to do something nasty to them (the Game Master smiles evilly...). It may be only a legend between magic-users, another reason why to let those boring priests in peace. Note that while their spellcasting ability would be crippled, it is certainly not gone.
Unique Munchkin Item: The Ruby Scepter
With several large identical rubies inset, it attracts the eyes of any wizard. Sadly, all are imbued with a strange protective spell, that makes the whole item very hard and the gems unusable for casting or draining. So what is it for?
The rubies do not loose their focusing power, though they add nothing of their own. Given their carefully balanced position, one has only to cast a fire-based spell. If holding the sceptre, the fireball will concentrate into a single fiery ray, more intense yet very thin.
Most spells are only short-term effects, particularly fire-based spells. Still, a well-targeted single shot can kill someone, blast through a wall, or destroy a lock. The more powerful the spell, the more of a super-laser you get. Then again, if you don't know any spells from this domain, it is useless, however expensive.
Be warned that this item is most probably too powerful, and should research make creating others possible (with other stones... Diamond Scepter anyone?), problems will arise... It better stays unique, if it is used at all. You were warned. Go to Comment
(Thanks for de-munchkining the Sceptre a bit! It is a potent, yet hard-to-use weapon now, though it makes still an interesting tool for certain situations. Aiming at a non-moving door is easy.)
To "almost flawless gems":
...what about those crystallic stones, that are not considered gems? Those, that may still be relatively nice, but are not terribly expensive.
(Tried to search a bit, a source about gemstones worth looking at.)
Smoothing out molecular flaws sounds a bit too much for me (though it is your decision ). One could imagine a spell created one day, able to slowly repair flaws, making a faulty big diamond after multiple castings a flawless big diamond.
Using cheaper stones may be better, I think, which but again pours more gold into the mining industry, or those that control it.
And reusability? I think not.
But... what about those blood stones? No, I don't mean the "usual" blood stones, how about stones created from your own blood? A very painful thing, certainly, but you can recharge your stone again and again (may need a drop or two of your blood, to make it not so great), and takes very long for anyone else to attune, so it is hard to steal its magic. A _very_ personalised magic item, one might say, with a little dark bent, so not suited for everyone. Colour might be optional, or may consist of several hues, making it again clear this stone is not for casting, but storing only.
Note: maybe a few hit points may need to be sacrificed permanently?
Oh, one thing I have noticed above:
Gems detect as magical? Of course they should, it was just not told before (or I have missed it). But in most systems is detecting magic relatively simple (often low-level spells), so "Gem-Check" at the door would be very easy. Or not?
What about Dwarwes?
I refer now to one idealised view if this race (certainly not true for each member, maybe none in your world). According to this, Dwarwes are not "greedy", but rather give great value to the treasures of Mother/Father Earth, both precious metals and gems.
Every Dwarf may be different, but still, what do they think of those stupid wizards, that seek the most beautiful of gems, only to turn them into ashes? They may sell them, but their attitude may be even more disrespectful to the mages, or downright hostile, in a few traditional clans. Strenghtens even more the "anti-magic" feeling of the dwarwes.
What about the Dragons?
Dragons (another "idealised" view) like to hoard treasure, gems among other items. What do they think of wizards? Especially if they themselves are a fine source of magic (blood stones)?
Dragons may or may not need gems for their own purposes. Dragon magic is ancient a little known to humanoids, and dragons do not share it. Gems may have been its focus long before humans thought of a similar idea, and it may know the secrets of storing more magic, draining them without destroying, or even freely re-using gems.
(Hmmm... it seems the farther I go, the less groups are friendly to wizards. ) Go to Comment
Quote from: "manfred"But... what about those blood stones? No, I don't mean the "usual" blood stones, how about stones created from your own blood? A very painful thing, certainly, but you can recharge your stone again and again (may need a drop or two of your blood, to make it not so great), and takes very long for anyone else to attune, so it is hard to steal its magic. A _very_ personalised magic item, one might say, with a little dark bent, so not suited for everyone. Colour might be optional, or may consist of several hues, making it again clear this stone is not for casting, but storing only.
Note: maybe a few hit points may need to be sacrificed permanently?
Now see what comes from re-reading own ideas. This may go in yet another direction, so beware...
What if, these stones would actually change their colour, or the hues? Does it remind you of something? Yes, a mood stone. Not only would it reveal something of current mood, but may hint at creators personality. This item is very personalised indeed...
It may seem very logical at first, that white stone=Evil, black stone=Good, but why keep the stereotype? A fanatic starting a holy war might have a white stone, for his devotion to some "pure" principle. Black might simply mean depression. Few colours might be concentration on some purpose, differing ones a broad personality, contrasting colours weird or crazy people... whatever you want.
All in all, another reason not to show this gem around. Go to Comment
There are gems too small or too faulty for "true" spellcasting... how about using them for cantrips and similar spells? Of course it is too expensive for regular use, but that could be a way to train students, and try new spells. You don't want to burn a usable gem each time you try, right?
Another thought is pretending to be a spellcaster, or imitating power. With that ruby in your hand, who will come close and check if it is flawless? Risky, but may work on occassion.
A third idea would be a sabotage. How about getting hands of someone's gems, not stealing them, but damaging them instead? With a bit of luck the poor wizard would fail to cast a spell, or miscast it and kill himself. Best done before a wizardly duel. If this happens more often, those magic users _will_ be paranoid about their gems. Go to Comment
A thought I had for limiting stockpiles or mining/ cutting of gems of sufficiently quality: radiant effects.
First of all, I would postulate that flawless stones uncut, should only give some of the power they could if they were cut. This means gems in their raw state are less than perfectly useful. A trained eye could identify "weapon's grade" cut stones.
Gem Cutting and Gem assessment should be part of a mage's skill set, like alchemy or staff making. Jewelry might be a good skill to have.
If said Wizard took over a mine, he would then have to spend all his time cutting gems rather than doing what he wants. Or there may be other problems, see below.
The reason why I like this is that it avoids making mines totally dangerous places. If uncut stones could generate magical energy, then why are there not subterranean magical creatures living off the magical energy of these stones? Said creatures would make mining anywhere near a vein of stones difficult and dangerous. Let alone, if these creatures are inherently magical, like elementals or some such, where you can't just defendyourselff with any old tool handy. This does not make for a happy work condition.
(Perhaps an inherently anti-magical race, like Dwarves, are the only ones who would risk digging gems.)
I would also like to make a large number of stones together in one place a form of anti-magic, making it harder to cast spells (or exist if you are a non material magical entity). If magic is the focusing of the radiant energy trapped in the matrix of the crystal, then the presence of a large number of uncut stones, should generate enough chaotic radiant energy that the spell energy becomes unfocussed. A large number of cut stones around should have the same effect. This number should be larger than the number you foresee a player character MU carrying around, but if you want to limit the power of an MU, make the number less.
I would like to make a number of cut stones in an area generate a "magic rich" environment, allowing for free floating magical creatures to exist. This will eliminate anyone wanting to stockpile gems in quantity. This could get the governments out of the gem business and put it back into the hands of the wizards who can deal with such things. (Combining these two effects, means more monster and less available magic to fight them off, upping the danger ante).
Just some thoughts to incorporate...
Oh.. perhaps it is in the salt in the wizard's body that allows them to have mana. Maybe there is a culture that is known for its wizards and magic users. Their cuisine might be very salty and the magic aptitude being a side effect. Go to Comment