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ID: 2006

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March 15, 2007, 10:49 am

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Spell Components - we don't need any stink'n spell components

By:

Most of the people who “spell components” really don’t know anything about magic. Components are used as tools, symbols to help focus the concentration and associations for the spell caster. Rarely is anything “consumed” in the casting, unless it is a sacrifice or burned.

Most of the people who want “odd spell components” really don’t know anything about magic. Components are used as tools, symbols to help focus the concentration and associations for the spell caster. Rarely is anything “consumed” in the casting, unless it is a sacrifice or burned.

Spells are normally processes, what people call rituals.  (Some of these spells are “stored” in items for future use). Spells that are not performed as rituals are the same spells as the rituals, just done at minuses for not having all the symbolic tools, taking less time, and and so on.

On to the goodies. In western mystical traditions, the following items are used.

Athame: Magically attuned knife, usually blunt… but not always.  Once blooded can not be used for “good” magical purposes. Used for fire or the initiation of magic.

Incense burner: with a variety of inscents.

Challice: Any cup with stem will do.

Small Mirror: Usually etched with a multipoint star (though five is the common). Often used for Earth items.

Wand: carved with air runes. Other wands need to be created for other ritual purposes.

Candles: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and White… but other elemental association colors are good.

Chalk and String (used to create magic circles).  The strings are usually marked to certain lengths to create multiple point stars inscribed in circles. Each string will have the measurements for the various mystic patterns to be inscribed. 

Corn Meal: Used like the chalk.  Some people use road dust or odd colored dust for the same purposes.

(Personally, I use wax. It never blows away and is hard to smudge.  It comes up easily with either a little heat or a simple scraper. If you are going to use cornmeal or dust, invest in a spritzer bottle and spritz the substance in h20. It makes it stick together and on to the floor (until it dries out)).

*Ritual Carpet Solomontic Rug: It is a good sized plain carpet with an appropriate mystic symbol (or at minimum a circle with a 4 point cross) traced upon it.  The actual symbol is drawn upon the carpet each time (often tracing over the circle). The Carpet can be brought outside to make outdoor rituals easier, safer (usually less flamable than dry meadow grass or pine needles), and less painful (avoid rocks, sharp pinecones, etc). The carpet has grommets in the four corners so it can be staked down, as not to blow away. (Kudoes to a friend who reminded me of this thing).

Staff: Used for spirit of many larger rituals to define boundries.

Silk Ribbons (red usually): Again for symbolic binding, holding, or can be used to create symbolic centers.

Crystal and more crystals. Usable in so many ways, even if you are not “new age” in orrientation.

Flute: Used for air or for summoning.

Fan: Used to move inscent smoke.

Paper Models: Origami or folded paper symbols of items.

A set of 23 bells, each with a different tone in the scale.

An actual magic sword, which is more like a short trident than sword with a variety of mystic symbols and names inscribed on it.  Trident of Paracelsus

A few dozen marbles or cystals: (You never know what you need to store in one).

Tarot Cards (or any number of symbolic tablets): Spells and rituals can be “stored” in the orders of the card. The cards can be used for their symbolic value for substitution in a spell.

Cages for any small animals needed to be sacrificed.

A number of small latchable boxes that are used to contain various earths, herbs, or spell components (including hair samples, virgin blood, etc).  These are often carried in a small trunk. A Chinese Apothocary Trunk is good for this. A make up case can be substituted.

Broom, Bucket, and Water: Well cleaning up a ritual or even a spell is a pain. That is one of the real reasons for apprentices and long apprenticeships.



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Comments ( 11 )
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Voted Mourngrymn
December 14, 2005, 14:08
0xp
While this was not what I was expecting it to be when I read the title, it is still interesting to know. Having been at one point in time interested in Wiccan all of what I knew is right on from what moon says here.

I went beyond needing spell components for my world and instead use a syetm of runes and symbols, I assume not unlike Runequest. You focus the energies needed through those runes of power and POOF out comes magic.
KendraHeart
December 15, 2005, 0:11
0xp
Master of all knowledge obscure and arcane. It matches my experience as well.
Voted valadaar
December 22, 2006, 10:14
0xp
Interesting sub for the accoutrements of magic.
Voted Scrasamax
December 22, 2006, 13:26
0xp
To Quote from the above passage:i
"Most of the people who want "odd spell components" really don't know anything about magic. Components are used as tools, symbols to help focus the concentration and associations for the spell caster. Rarely is anything "consumed" in the casting, unless it is a sacrifice or burned."/i

I have a problem with this, and it is a pretty signifigant one. The article assumes that all magic will behave in a fashion similar to what equates to 'real magic' or ritualistic magics practiced by Wiccans. If that is the system you want to use for your game, that is fine, but doing so rips magic out of the enviroment. Tell the PCs they really didn't need the Jewel of Karkoom to raise their friend from the dead and it was just a prop and the need was in their head, your players are going to be angry.

I guess the problem I have is that this article confuses the objective reality of the real world with the subjective reality of the gaming world. That and it looks more like a laundry list of magical implements than a fleshed out system.

Final objection.
Quote "iAthame: Magically attuned knife, usually blunt... but not always. Once blooded can not be used for "good" magical purposes. Used for fire or the initiation of magic. /i"

Blood is a sacrament in many faiths, and the drawing of blood for sacrifice is not in itself an evil act, thus blooding a knife doesn't make it evil. using it to murder another person, or use in violation of the standing ethos yes, but in drawing blood untrue.
MoonHunter
December 22, 2006, 17:32
0xp
I am sorry you feel that way.

I think you missed the point of the submission. Many spell systems utilize off mechanics to cast spells that are used as a check/pass to casting spells. This is a listing of tools that can be used as more appropriate window dressings for spell casting.

Yes it is an equipment listing. It is a listing of what might be in a hermetic mage's tool kit. This is not the wicca listing (though the similarities are great). This is the basic tool kit used by any Mediteranean Basin practioner be they Hermetic, Quabalistic, Enochian, and the summoning system of the Persians (which has more spellings than Quabala, Kaballah, what ever it translate as). Their circles seriously overlap in the Venn Diagram). Add a couple of incense and some minerals for various potions, powders, and processes, and you pretty much have the basics. (Wiccan, Rosecrucians, Mason, and a couple of others thaumaturgicals extends from these traditions.

Every system of "magik" I have studied, which includes Kenja (Japan), some Native American Shaman systems, and some translations of Chinese Sorcery, expound that magic comes from the spirit within. That while external forces can be tapped, the motivating force comes from within the practioner. Any tools are used simple to help the practioner focus and tune their own power.

And, it seems, that with changes in props and languages (creating different symbolic context) there are deep and harmoneous similarites in both process and techniques.

And lets dispense with "there is no such thing as magik, so it is all opinion."

If there was no such thing as magik (in some form), then why does every culture have a system of magic (direct or inherited)? And why do they have great congruency?

"And well magic doesn't really do things, so we can ignore it." arguments. Well it does not seem to do what most people who have this opinion want it to do. Is that magic's problem or the persons. And science does not give me teleportation or a flying car or a personal assistant robot (all things science is supposed to do, but can only do it in fiction).

Do we not study or at least check about melee weapons or other historical facts to see if our games have some semblance of reality? Some gaming is based on some scholarly check for realism or at least something in the same relative ball park.

Why not study thurgical (spirit and enlightment) and thaumaturgical (wonder via spell or prayer) systems as well?

So yes, your fantasy magik world might operate under different rules. Fine, it is a fantasy and then you wouldn't be utilizing it anyways. If you were looking for something with more versimilitude...

If that is the system you want to use for your game, that is fine, but doing so rips magic out of the enviroment.

No, it rips nothing out of the environment. Magic does not need special effects budget. It does converts magic to a skill rather than a crunchy bit for a character. Or at least something more internal to the character. Have you read fantasy that did not have ubers magic?

Tell the PCs they really didn't need the Jewel of Karkoom to raise their friend from the dead and it was just a prop and the need was in their head, your players are going to be angry.

Tell your PCs that the Jewel of Karkoom increases the percentage from 5% to 80% and yes. Yes, they are props. Yes you can do magic without it. However it takes greater skill to do it. Sure you can do surgery with just a sharp knife, but tools improve your chances of success. A master surgeon will have a much better chance of positive results than a third year resident. So if someone tells you "they need the item" what they are really saying is "they don't have enough skill/ power to do it without it".

Final objection.
Quote "Athame: Magically attuned knife, usually blunt... but not always. Once blooded can not be used for "good" magical purposes. Used for fire or the initiation of magic. "

Blood is a sacrament in many faiths, and the drawing of blood for sacrifice is not in itself an evil act, thus blooding a knife doesn't make it evil. using it to murder another person, or use in violation of the standing ethos yes, but in drawing blood untrue.


There is a difference between blooding a weapon (with the blood of others) and using it for self sacrifice (which is normally a self inflicted ritual cut). It should be positive or creative, rather than "good" purposes. Differentiations that were automatic for me were the problem for others. It was an over extension. I will correct it.
Barbarian Horde
March 15, 2007, 0:42
0xp
I agree with the above posters, MoonHunter has merely provided an inventory of ritual props and not a formulary for composing actual spells.

(Oh “X” in the name of “Y”, do “Z”! I petition you in truth. Abracadabra!)
MoonHunter
March 15, 2007, 10:43
0xp
The point my Hordish friend, is that instead of using some odd or vaguely symbolic component, one should be using these items, that are part of a ritual tool kit, to generate magical effects.

Much the way you would use a wrench, a screw driver, and a few other tools in a tool kit to do plumbing or fix an engine, you would have all these items in your magical tool kit. When you wanted to do a spell, you would pull some of these out, create a mystic space (permanent or temporary and call upon some energy, focusing that energy via will work your will on the world. To assist you in focusing that will you would use spoken words, mental associations, symbolic gestures, and symbolic tools. These are all things that you have memorized and taken into your self as connections to the magical (call it what you will). They help focus your concentration and will to strengthen you will to create magic.

Spells are not things to be thrown about. They are a process which must be performed.. much the same way fixing your plumbing or car engine is a process. These are the tools to perform said act.
dark_dragon
March 15, 2007, 14:25
0xp
Sure spells (in game) are not things to throw about, and you have to perform processes, but it makes more sense to have the toolkit be congruent with what you want to do.

Moon, you make it seem like you have a general DIY (Do It Yourself) toolkit, and that this is to be used for all tinkering. But if you want to fix electronics, you'll not be using a wrench! and if you want to fix your plumbing, you'll not be using a soldering iron!

I think that this "system", although fine in its own right, really lacks flavour. I understand your comments on the "jewel of blabla", and that the components act as focus for the spell, which would otherwise be nearly impossible, but the genericality of the components makes for a bland in-game system. The mage just gets the toolkit, draws a circle and pooohwah! Maybe the players should involve themselves more in the spell casting, think about what they want to do and then carefully select the right component,

eg: the firemage will light a candle, for the element of fire, then use a ruby as a focus, because of its association with fire, and perhapse prepare a very 'hot' meal as an offering for the spirit of fire, etc, etc...

just an idea...
MoonHunter
March 15, 2007, 15:18
0xp
The reason I did not provide any system to go with this is that this is a system free site.

I am sure you can add flavor with more detail. This is actually a simplified set centering on the tools of the trade rather than correspondences.

There are actually any number of correspondence books (some online), where you can begin to look up the exact symbols, colors, gems, metals, woods, plants, scents, animals, stars, plaents, times, tides, gods, spirits, and a plethora of other things, that can be used for any number of spell effects. I have a book of correspondences that is over 140 pages of tables. It would be a simple matter to make an additive correspondence by type modifier.

So spell chances would start at -25%+skill percentage +correspondence modifiers would not be that hard to work out. Insert game mechanic of your choice. This is a system free site.

However that level of detail is much more than people really need. Chivalry and Sorcery First Edition had a magic system that took all correspondence into account as based on actual medieval grimoires. Such comments as "I have to check how many pages to see all the spell tools?" and "I just spent 20 minutes looking up things for a +3% increase in my spell check?" actually happened in play. There is a reason for the second and third (and fourth and fifth editions) of that game. While incredibly realistic, it was not very playable.

So yes, you can add more flavor to your spell casting. However, do you want your other players rolling their eyes, going out for smokes, going to the store, everytime someone wants to cast a spell? I think not.

Aside: A nice system for this was in "Stalking the Night Fantastic" by TriTac. It was somewhat streamlined, but it gives the same feel. However it was no where near as complete as C&S, but it was a heck of a lot more playable.

So you can work out a small set of appropriate correspondences for spell casting that fits your system and game group. This is just an idea.
dark_dragon
March 16, 2007, 7:30
0xp
Sorry, Moon, I didn't mean a system like that...

Not the mechanical system, but the system of symbolic links to magic. (ie: the systems the characters think about, not the players!) the dice rolling has nothing to do with it, but it would be nice if the players (as spellcasters) think of how their character perceives magic.

Rather than just say:
"Hey, I draw a chalk circle on the floor and summon a demon" {roll dice}

They might say:
"I want to summon a demon of the plane of fire, so i'll use some ashes and us a ruby as a focus, and i will light a small candle as a trigger" {roll dice}

Note here that the dice rolls can be exactly the same, the way the player thinks about his character is not though, and a generic toolkit makes magic seem less mystical and more like just another trade. (then again, this might be what you want for your game...) its a flavour thing, rather than a mechanical thing.

Maybe some game Mechanics have tables to get the exact score if you use a particular component. But, as you pointed out this makes for rather long winded casting! What you could do mechanically is up to you. you could say any sympathetic focus gives a higher chance of success, or that a focus is required, or anything you fancy. you could even ignore any mechanical effect and leave it pure flavour. Clearly kudos has to go to player who will think about what his character perceives and carefully select how he will do magic, and I think that the toolkit post doesn't foster this attitude enough. (although having components at all is a step forward to think about magic, even if there is an infinite numbers of way you could do it.)
MoonHunter
March 16, 2007, 10:23
0xp
I like correspondences. I use correspondences. However most people are not trained mystics or spent a few dozen hours memorizing associations. And the players don't want "to spend their own skill points" on "Mystical Correspondences 11-" or "Hermetic Science 11-".

The catch to that is you will still have people looking up correspondences in a book for flavor for their spells. Now you can do the study ahead of time, to find all the appropriate correspondences. Think about it: now your game has homework for your players. They need to study a little tome of correspondence and work out most of them for the spell clusters they have.

Sure they could do this in their own free time.

Sure they will.

If your troupe uses cue cards (Lights, Camera, Action or Not Just Rolling Dice: A Fight Scene or MoonHunter's Top Tips for 2004) then this is not so bad. Yet we both know they will do it during the game. (A point of fact: most of my troupe's cue cards are made during game). You can just hear it.

"Oh, it is a bit different"
"Oh, I never planned on this spell"
"I just need to check one thing"

If they haven't studied the books, the looking up of correspondence will take... a while. Think how long it takes people to look up spell effects in the books (in most spell systems were there are defined sets)? Now add to that a larger book that needs to be referred to in a couple of places.

Sure you can have a tiny list or use the correspondences from a condensed source. That will help some. Sure you can prevent people from looking up correspondences in the game (sort of defeating the purposes).

Now this can get complicated if you are running a game in Nippon or China or Tibet, and most of these associations are different than most western would expect. The curve starts building again.

So yes it is a wonderful color association. Yes, I recommend it with reservations. It was also beyond the specific scope of this article, but it is a good idea... if used sparingly.


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