Idea Guild > Sagely Advice

Free-Form Sorcery

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I have adopted a system into my game which I think works very well, those some others I've met seem to frown upon it.

Rather than write up a long list of complicated spells, I use Free-Form Magic. My players make up the spell and it's uses, and if it doesn't seem to powerful, I let them have it.

What do you think?

Edit: By the way, they can only make up to three spells per level, and no new spells until next level.

Well, I think that that may be useful, but it could overwhelm newer players, and it can also be manipulated. You do tell them if the spell is too powerful, but the range they can use is unlimmited.

For example, with a list of spells, a person must choose his character's spells carefully, or will be at a loss when a situation he has no spell for comes along. Also, they must gain certain experiance and level points before being able to access more powerful spells.

With free-form magic, a person can make up any spell to help them through any situation. They can't level an entire cave of monsters with one spell, but they can illuminate the darkness, tunnel out of danger, or even fly through a hole in the roof. Whenever a new situation comes up, they just make up a spell with the specific function they need.

Of course, you could let them create spells only at designated times, and only when they are experianced enough to control the spell, but this will wreak havoc on new and even moderatly experianced players. The challenge of creating spells to be used in whatever trap they might find themselves next would be enough to throw even the elite players off-balance, and cost them the game.[/code]

I don't think you understand. They get to create up to three spells per level, and no new spells until next level. I think you may have suggested that in your reply.

<rubs his hands, this could get ugly>

I LOVE freeform magic. But it depends on the system. What you are doing sounds pretty good, but do they make up unique magic spells or do they stick with the standards or heavily base their 'made up' spells on well known systems?

The system your magic depends is a very important aspect of freeform magic.

1)))Magic is based on scholarship and studying. Then it is basically D&D. Most anybody can do it if they study. I would assume that yours is this case since they can only make up 3 spells per level or whatever. That would imply they gained knowledge and created new spells.

But then you have to think, how did they create the spells in the first place? If they created them on their own then they must have some kind of talent for it, to improvise a new spell cannot be that easy. Unless it is just a manner of reading the same magic words from the magic dictionary in a different order. But if they truly developed their own magic then that leads to another system.

2)))Magic is a skill that only those with the talent can perform. It is an innate ability that you have or don't have. You need to have the talent to feel the magic and you use prewritten spells and then, on your own, manipulate them to do other things because you have a feeling for the magic and understand it at its most basic instinctive level. These are the ones that can have a need and develop a new spell to satisfy that need because they are part of the nature of magic.

3)))Magic requires special materials or items to cast. Basically do only what they were designed to do. The magician will be able (through 1 or 2) to enchant certain items or materials to cast certain spells. Depending on size/strength of the material makes the spell only that strong. Allows low level to get a staff that can hold much and use their power to enchant the staff with as many spells as it can hold and allow upgrades in the future. Then the must have the item to cast with and they are limited by the item to how much they can cast. DM can make up items that allow or limit as much or as little magic as they want in their campaign.

4)))Any others?

For my homebrewed system I used a combination of 1 and 3 and limited magic to the elements. The elemental magic is tied to sand which is a limited quantity distributed and hidden throughout the land. There are many different levels of sand as well from the most pure and strongest to the diluted and weak. A caster can only carry so much sand though because the sand simply does not allow anybody to stock up. Then, depending on the quality of the sand, the caster can cast ANYTHING they want of that elemental sand they are carrying (elements cannot be mixed, mages are specialized to an element). Stronger the spell, the more sand it uses...and also depends on the dilution of the sand. So a Fire Mage can cast a flame thrower until the sand runs out. Can light hundred of small fires or engulf one house in flames. Up to the caster what he wants to do and the amount and power of the sand he has. Sand is hard to get and expensive if bought so they are frugal as much as possible and only use it all if in dire need. No telling when they will be able to get more so it is a good limiting factor. (I don't like High Magic worlds)

Could do the same thing with the staff with a rest cycle or something.

I would like to hear a little more detail of your system Cap'n.[/list]

Basically, the way it works is this:

Say we have Yusuf al-Yahid, the Mage of el-Habir. He is a level two wizard, thus he has six spells. When he first made his character, he created these spells:

-Candle: A small flame appears in Yusuf's palm, lighting the area round him. He can use this two times per day, because he is level two.
-Magic Slap: Yusuf makes a slapping motion in the direction of his enemy, causing a magical, invisible hand to slap them. Two uses per day, as per his level.
-Sidestep: Yusuf increases his dodging ability by 10% (Dodging ability is measured in percents) for three turns. Two uses per day, as per his level.

When Yusuf ascends to second level, he creates these spells:

-Palm of Flame: Yusuf makes a quick shoving motion at his enemy, throwing a handprint of flames in their direction. Causes 3 Hp worth of damage (Quite a lot in my game). One use per day, as per his level.
-Void-Sent Missive: Yusuf shouts into the sky, sending one, ten-word message to any being within thirty miles. One use per day, as per his level.
-Silver Blessing: Yusuf touches a weapon, turning it into silver for one day. Silver weapons cut supernatural flesh with better efficiency. One use per day, as per level.

That is how my system works. If I think a spell is too powerful, they must make a new spell. My friend's druid, Kaaltharik, is a third level druid. He wants to make a spell that he calls "Soaring Devil Leap". It allows him to quadruple his natural jumping length for one jump. I think "Quadruple?! That's total ****!" So I say, nope. He comes up with a new spell. And so on. It works quite well for us.

I suppose that it's mostly 2 with a dash of 3 thrown in.


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