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Offline manfred

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Cantrips to change the world **
« on: August 05, 2003, 02:55:08 AM »
Noticed this idea?

Quote from: Agar
For those familiar with cantrips, you know they are minor acts of magic that have hardly any noticable effect on the world. For example a cantrip to make your food taste better won't heal you any more, or be any more nourishing, just won't make it so hard to get it down. A light cantrip certainly won't be able to blind or even distract anybody, but you might be able flash it to signal someone looking at the right spot. What if children's nusery ryhmes were a form of cantrip? Like the "Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day." One child singing it wouldn't do more than spare her house a couple raindrops, but what if the whole village got together and was chanting in unison? Each one doing just a bit might actually be able to divert a whole storm...

What I really like about it is the world-changing potential. You know, the standard, 'average' fantasy world has some pre-set rules on how the masses react on magic. You can mix them on your own, but a combination of Wonder, Fear, Respect and Distrust is always inside.
Generally, wizards are not very trusted, etc, etc, etc...

But now, everyone can lay their hands on magic. It will be little effects, but a part of the things mentioned before will be lost. Well, we did cast a spell last year. We know, what it is about. So, you're a wizard, so what?

Of course, many people may still admire, or hate wizards, but wizards won't be that special anymore. And Fear? A powerful wizard is dangerous, like a powerful warrior is. Respect goes to any capable specialist of its job.

On the other hand, people may be more willing to be helped with magic. Hedge or village wizards will be more common, wizards that specialize into smaller magics useful for the average folk. Some may know only cantrips, and still earn a living. Magic will have now it's price, as a part of the market. People will ask now how can your art help them.

Very few people could cast a spell without a prior study of the arcane arts. Some people can cast cantrips on their own. But if a large group begins to chant, a well-motivated group in particular, magic happens! This also means that talented people are easier found, so the general number of wizards in the population will be higher. Often, children are taught the rhymes to assist their parents.

New ways of magic will be researched, especially the more practical ones. Knowledge of useful spells/cantrips will spread. Conversely, handy spells that bring cash will be kept secret as a good source of income. Wizards will loose a part af their mystical image, but wizardry is now a job as any other, and a well-paying one.

And the world can change even more...


A few Cantrips for group-use

Protect from Rain - as mentioned above

Exterminate - kills small creatures like insects, maybe even rats. In jungles and other vermin-infested regions this may be a great way to clean your village, camp or even town. Regularly, people gather and walk around the village chanting to make their homes safe.

Sprout - many farmers would surely want their plants to grow as fast as possible. Makes a small seed sprout, and makes your neighbours jealous if your plants come faster to growth.

Spark - in a cruel winter or in cold lands, it can be a question of life or death to make fire. And if all else fails, you can try this trick.

Warm - another minor weather corrector. If it is cold, your trees and plants suffer (as do you). Now you can give them at least a little warmth.

Chill - hot weather is as dangerous to the harvest as cold one. Cooling down may help a bit.

Dampen - gathers natural vapours, and concentrates them in a location. This may worsen relations between neighbours, for all will argue about what belongs to which land, who is more in his right, etc, etc...

Dry - good for drying fruits and herbs. Useful after floods for cleaning up.

Freshen - in bad times, can renew the taste and quality of food that might otherwise be thrown away. Groups of beggars will beg for and collect this food.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2005, 11:56:56 AM by MoonHunter »
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2003, 03:46:02 AM »
If anyone can cast spells (of a sort), then wizards just another type of craftsman.  There will be differences of course.  Anyone can swing a weapon, but few are warriors/ fighters.  There will a similar arrangement for spell casters and wizard/mages.

Most spells will be of the practical domestic nature.  They will probably be things that most people could do without magik, just it will take less effort to do so with magik.

Sharpen, Mend, Polish, light fire, enhance candle (so a candle burns for vastly longer without burning out), find, dig earth, strengthen wall, clean, bring water, call friend, stop bleeding (same as successful first aid), are the examples that leap to my mind.  

All of these could be handy for an adventurer if used carefully and with a little creativity.

Perhaps a mystic skill or feat or gift is required to cast a basic spell.  More advanced spells will require more training of course.   So only a wizard/ magician could cast a second level or better spell.  However, most people would not need them.

so most of the changes would be a change in attitude.
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2003, 03:52:50 AM »
That's a question for your choosing...

Does it need a group to cast, or can REALLY everyone cast cantrips?
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Offline Ylorea

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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2003, 07:11:36 AM »
If my players would come up with this question, I would create a feat that would allow the casting of a limited number of level zero spells.

For people without this feat, it would be impossible to cast a level zero spell on their own, but with training, like you (Manfred) suggested in your first post they could cast a cantrip together, say by combining at least three people. (Still a limit to the number of uses per day)
For PC's this would not be practical, as they would need to practice to "tune in" to each other, which in turn would be a problem for for instance a wizard and a cleric. (If I would have three fighters, that would be another thing.)

The above is of course going very deep into rules already. On a more philosophical note I would say:
Any one person can cast cantrips with proper training and/or the proper gift. (Just like some people are good at math, some people may be good at casting spells)
People who are not so gifted can of course combine their effort to achieve the effect. However to combine effects, you would have to be carefully tuned to each other. Otherwise your effort might cancel the effort of others. Just like a choir singing. An singel extra voice in ten may give the choir a much warmer sound, but by singing out of tune may ruin the entire performance.

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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2003, 08:27:18 PM »
This could also lead to local superstitions or practices.  Maybe no one really understands the real reason that the farmers say a specific rhyme at planting or harvest, or why smiths perform a specific ritual before begining a project.  That is just the way things have always been done, therefore that is the way thing continue to be done.
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Offline Ylorea

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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2003, 01:52:27 AM »
Like a situation where the villagers will not speak to you, before at least ten of them have walked around the visitor.....

(Using a cantrip that will indicate the villagers wheter you will be hostile towards them in the next couple of days)
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2003, 02:34:18 AM »
Now that's a smart one... Detect Evil Intent or something... or Detect Hostile Tendencies...


Do not forget the motivation... doing something just in-between needs talent, but if you are particularly pushed, for example the storm in the first example could destroy the entire harvest and left the village starving... well you get the idea.
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2004, 05:30:24 AM »
Oh... imagine a large group casting Spark cantrips out of intense hate. They could burn down your house, or do even worse.

---

When are songs sung?


A group of militiamen can sing their hymnus as they begin their shift, casting a minor luck or defense cantrip on them, having an edge on the criminals.

Gold miners on a river want to improve their eyesight, to see even the tiny grains.

The dwarwes sing their builders song when they finish a new hall, making the walls a tiny bit harder.

The elves are said to command trees with song, could there be some truth?

---

If everyone could cast a tiny spell in this way, the game world it will be influenced heavily. Family and group values will be held very important, and someone not belonging to any group will be considered inferior (which I think people were considered in the past), unless being an expert of some sort. Rituals will exist, where the work in unison will be tested. As it is spellcasting, some will have more success than others. More magical talents will be found (whether more people study magic or not is unsure, but it is likely to be used even more).
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Offline Agar

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Cantrips to change the world
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2004, 07:51:23 PM »
"Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

Imagine the mob use of this kid of thing. Not the organized crime kind of thing, but like lynch mobs. One person using a cantrip might feel like someone's flicked you, but 80 people would feel like a strong kick, Over and over.

Imagine those villages on the fringe of civiliazation, wary of bandits and thieves. Strangers to the town would find themselves facing or surronded be twenty or more villagers, all chanting some phrase. While the towns folk know they're useing a 'know alingment' or 'detect evil' cantrip, how would players react to this encounter?
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2004, 02:17:21 AM »
Peasants, Farmers and all sensible folk!

Ever grew afraid of magic-users? Did a witch place a curse on you? Do you think that magic is too dangerous?

The Academy of Hedge Magics is here to help you. What a common wizard must study for years, you can easily learn AND accomplish in not days, but mere hours! Simply invite your friends and family, and learn the Dispel Cantrip, the ultimate anti-magic defense for any village. If you chant the words for long enough, and concentrate well, the magic you dislike will stop working!

Order NOW!
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Offline Kassil

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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2004, 02:20:40 PM »
...Of course, one old thing was that some smiths used to sing while the worked...

There's cantrip magic right there, imbuing the iron blade with a touch of magic.
"I grab the sword!"
"Mmkay, you're dead."
"What!?"
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Offline Kinslayer

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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2005, 10:46:31 PM »
Swordsmiths, and other craftsmen did have certain rituals for their art--that's history, not fantasy.  These were guarded secrets taught only to select apprentices. It might be interesting to look at how some of these mystical practices still have holdovers in the modern world.  

From a game design perspective, you may want to divide magic into cantrips (done by anyone), over-powered cantrips (done by group magic), and "standard" spellcraft (done only by a talented true mage).  This works well with a religious angle for the over-powered group cantrips.  However, not all magics might be so enhanced.  To use mathematic examples, counting a large number of something can be aided by having many people each count a small portion, but long division doesn't work well as a group endeavour.
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2005, 01:22:21 AM »
So, a prayer is actually a cantrip? Interesting, and spares the divine a lot of work... (s)he may just set aside a pool of energy that is available to prayers, and let the mortals decide what exactly they want NOW. If the cantrip fuel comes from ambient energy, even better.

So, where exactly does cantrip 'juice' come from?
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2005, 10:26:35 AM »
Not to step upon the Gods are Psychic Animal threads...

Bonewits (and that thread) have the same basic idea about Gods.

Gods are ectomorphs, spirit entites, which are made manifest through the belief of worshipers. (It is often a chicken and egg question on which came first... the diety or the worshipers.) Bonewits ignores the spirit form, and calls them circuits in the great collective unconscious. The effect is the same. The Belief, Prayers, and group ritual of worshipers provide the Diety energy. In addition "right actions" or actions that support the function/ associations of the diety provide the diety energy. (So the acts of war empower war dieties, acts of home and hearth support the household diety, supporting the family/ elderly support the ancestors.) This belief/ energy has a synergetic effect, multiplying itself beyond the basic amount.  Now believer "tap into" the energy of the diety through directed prayer. It is like getting interest on your money, your belief added power to the pool, now you can withdraw some to provide you with a thaumaturgical/ wonder working effect. In addition, if the energy is being channeled into a "right action" or action that supports the function/ associations of the diety, the energy has the right "vibration" and "associations" to be extra effective in effect. (And the act itself generates energy for the diety...)

Now the same thing can be done with non-divine spirits... Spirits of Cars or Spirits of Weather or spirit of math knowledge. These spirits receive no energy from worship, just the existance and "right actions" associated with their existance. Magicians will invoke or evoke such spirits to gain both energy for right actions AND patterns/ vibrations of the energy to make such right actions easier.
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Offline Nobody

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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2005, 12:48:02 AM »
Well i think that this is a great idea. I mean, a capable wizard would have to spend twenty years learning how to cast spells effectively. If we consider these cantrips the equivalent of spells, then anybody could do them out of their own personal mana.

 In order to cast a spell effectively you would have to learn how to channel magic, how to form the spell internally, and a whole bunch of other stuff. This is why not everybody can cast spells. But, if twenty people get together to cast a spell of start fire, it should work. However, they could only start one fire. Not twenty. And it might take many hours to get it right. Pretty impractical when you consider how easy it is to get some flint.

 I think that this should be the limiting factor. That it would take a good five scores of people to match a relatively low level wizard (who, mind you, has spent his entire youth devoted to becoming a wizard). Much easier to just kill the wizard with your pitchforks or even beat him to death by hand. Who needs to cast a spell in order to stone a man to death, when you have rocks readily available.

But you could have societies devoted to casting cantrips. Everybody would train a few hours a day to communal spell-casting. NOW, it might only take 20 people to match a low level wizard. And only five people to start a fire... But it would still require training; just, informal training.

I think that more useful in nature would be the critical cantrips. These would be cantrips that only occure in dire need, but require no training, and only require a small handfull of people. They could be unconscious in nature, and depending on how powerful the cantrip (or actually, how few the people) it could cause mild mana burn sickness for a while afterwards.

Obviously what i am saying is all relative, and should be adjusted to each person's style. Or completely discarded. However, the easier it is to cast a small cantrip, the less training a Wizard would need to become powerful. That means that if everybody can cast small cantrips, then there would be a lot of powerful wizards around.

 That means that the price of a wizards services would drastically drop simply because of all of the competition, and now we have the fundamental question: who needs small cantrips when you can hire a wizard to do the job cheaper and easier, with a greater assurance that it will turn out the way it was intended.

Maybe the idea of communal cantrips should apply more to societies more magically adept than most. You would produce many more wizards, but they would all leave anyway to pursue higher paying jobs in the outside world. Perhaps the society that surrounds a school for mages.

I don't know. Just my thoughts. Don't take them too seriously.

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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2005, 05:59:14 AM »
GURPS features three levels of magical aptitude, and only the wizards most gifted (level 3) can reach the pinnacle of power, and learn the most powerful spells, or push the less powerful spells to their limits.

Now, if we fanned this further out, we might get:

*Resistant: the person actually HAMPERS magic
*Mundane: about as magical as a bowl of cereal
*Fey-touched: can cast cantrips in groups.
*Fey blood: has one or two innate cantrips or spells, but can't learn any more.
*Mage: can cast spells on his own.
*Gifted Mage: can cast mighty spells.
*Mage prodigy: has access to the best magics.
*Childe of Dragons (or what-have-you, anything pompous will do): extremely talented, learns magic playfully, can cast quite many spells intuitivelyand is likely to discover wholly new ones.

Now, this allows for a better fine-tuning. Not all people are suited to cast cantrips, and most will never be mages, try they might.
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Offline Kinslayer

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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2005, 11:31:51 PM »
From a system design point of view, this would be problematic outside of a point-buy system (or a disjointed one, as with Storyteller), with ever-increasing cost for the higher levels, and perhaps bonus points for the "disadvantage" of not being able to participate in the communal cantrip casting.  However, we aren't exactly discussing systems in particular...

With the division of innate talent, you could still have divided types of cantrips.  That is, some could be minor magics that anyone capable of casting them could use, and cantrips that are really only useful when augmented by group casting.  For example, a cantrip that dusts the floor would have general single-person utility, but a cantrip to grow crops faster wouldn't have a notable effect no matter how powerful a single caster is, but when the entire town chants the spell, then the all of their farms are notably benefitted, even if the average farmer is only a mundane.  

This allows you to create an entire cult chanting to summon their otherworldly master, or for a church to pray for a bountiful harvest or to rid themselves of a locust swarm.  

It's a great deal more initial design work--to create various sets of cantrips, along with the effects based on group efforts--but the end results may be worthwhile.
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2005, 06:20:38 AM »
Glad the thread has arised again!

Two things:

 First I think that knowing more powerful magics may in itself hinder one at communal spell casting - it is harder to tune in to something that is sooo below your skills... plus the extra amount of power can easily disrupt the weak strands of this kind of magic.

 Second, it may be important for the people in the cantrip-casting group to know each other, and are used to cooperate (thus the training mentioned by Nobody may not be necessary, or is implicitly present in their lifestyle, in songs, games, etc.). If we go for the idealised countryside view, small villages may be better at casting cantrip magic than large towns! But of course, there are usually 'true' spellcasters in towns, so no problem for them.
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Offline manfred

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Another one...
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2005, 02:35:51 AM »
What is a child's lullaby other than a very weak cantrip, with rhymes and the corect intonation? If "cast" by only one person (presumably the mother) on one target (presumably her child which she knows well), it is a "Sleepy" cantrip that makes the child weary, and it hopefully falls asleep faster.


Now, why couldn't "real" spells come from, or be inspired by, these weak cantrips? So "Sleep" is a much more powerful version of the the effect above... and many more spells could come from the same source.

So that's why archmages go on holidays into the country before researching their new cool spells...
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Offline Kinslayer

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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2005, 12:15:56 AM »
From a thamaturgic perspective, spells evolve both ways. Some greater rituals started as something similar, such as a blade enchantment that was once a rythmic chant for blacksmiths.  Other spells are remembered in part, and become children's songs, stripped of their original magical meaning.
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