To cast a spell, a jewel is necessary. It could be one kind of jewel only; such as amethyst in the world of Acqua or it could be many kinds of jewels, perhaps with a certain kind of jewel for each spell, with some jewels less common and more expensive to buy then others. Only the wealthy, or those willing to thieve, will be able to become users of magic, and random spell casting is certainly discouraged if not impossible, as each casting changes or outright destroys the jewel.
Magic is only possible if a certain kind of parasite has been deliberately ingested. The more of these parasites are present, the more magic can be cast and the stronger the spells are. But the stronger in magic a magic-user is, the weaker he or she is physically. Even a few of these parasites cause muscle weakness and anaemia, and too many at once can cause vomiting, partial paralysis, semi or total blindness, and death. Casting a spell kills a parasite, so battle-mages in wartime have to be particularly careful-ingest too many parasites and they will be too sick to fight, but ingest too few and their magic will run out in the middle of the battle.
Magic has a nasty side effect of causing temporary or even permanent forgetfulness- the larger the spell; the more memory will be lost. For a small spell like a ball of werelight, the only effect will be the short-term forgetting of some minor matter, but anything large will cause serious memory problems, or even total dementia. Also, even the effects of little spells add up, just as blows to the head of a boxer do. The wise mage casts spells only when needed, otherwise he or she soon becomes unwise.
Every time magic is cast, the caster is gambling with his or her sanity. Again, the larger the spell, the larger the chance that the wizard or witch will be reduced to a gibbering idiot, perhaps randomly casting dangerous spells at anyone who comes close until overpowered or just reduced to having no mind at all. Again, even little spells will add up over time, and some countries may make magic illegal for this reason. If the country has mental institutions, many of the inmates were once respected magic users who cast one spell too many.
Magic only works at sea, or at least when on or in a lake or a large river. On dry land, it does not work at all. In such a world, most spells will be woven around nautical matters such as fishing, sailing, controlling the wind or in the case of battle mages, sinking other ships. Even the most dangerous mages will be totally unable to use magic to defend themselves if attacked on land, and many may prefer to stay on board ship where they are respected for the power they wield.
Magic only works when cast by those of greatly mixed blood, not by most people. If the country is a racist one, mages may well be non-existent within it. At the other end of the scale, inter-racial pairings may be actively encouraged to birth the wizards and witches of the future. Be careful before you anger a Half-Orc in this world, he or she may be a skilled mage or witch and react with highly unpleasant spells.
Magic causes a lot of noise. Forget about using werelight to light your way home unless you want to wake up the entire street from their slumbers. Forget about trying to use a magic spell to quietly assassinate someone; the detonation will alert every guard within the area. Magic Schools can only get planning permission if placed well outside towns and cities, and battles are even noisier then normal. And if you are planning on casting any really big spell, you need lots of ear protection unless you don’t mind bursting your eardrums.
Magic interferes with gravity, causing the caster to float several feet in the air, not good if you were not expecting it. The bigger the spell, the higher you float up in the air, and the further you fall after a few minutes when the effect wears off afterwards. If you want to cast something huge and don’t want to end up as red jam and broken bones when you hit the ground, a parachute is highly recommended. Middle ranking spells are best avoided unless you are tethered to the ground, as otherwise you will fall far enough to hurt or kill but not far enough for your parachute to deploy properly.
Many magic users wear boots lined with lead to hold them down when casting small spells.
Magic staves, wands and other items, even the fingertips if these are used to cast spells, do not discharge all their magic at once. This builds up until it discharges randomly in bolts of lightning with a tendency to kill or injure people or damage or destroy property. Most countries require magic to be cast with wands or staves, and most towns and cities require such items to be handed in at the sheriff’s office or police station until the magic-user leaves the area. Carrying such items in the street is illegal and the sort of thing that quickly brings attention from law enforcement, and judges and juries are generally unsympathetic when random damage is caused, as “He/She should have known better then to walk around in public with a wand.”
Magic uses up fat reserves at an alarming rate; cast too many times without proper provisions to eat afterwards, and you can literally starve yourself to death very quickly. Most magic-users overeat on purpose, knowing that they can soon burn off their excess fat by casting a few spells. Battle mages, if they know they have a few months until a war, are encouraged to become grossly fat so they can cast many spells at the opposing army without having to become dangerously undernourished.
As with #10 except it is a magic-user’s water reserves that are used up. If in a desert or far from water it is ill-advised to cast anything at all, and if one casts too much too quickly then one can die of thirst even if ankle-deep in pure drinkable water. Cast with caution, and check that your water bottle is full.
Unless it is a sleep-spell and cast on oneself, magic causes acute insomnia for hours. Many mages and witches end up dependent on sleeping potions/pills/spells to get any sleep with the potentially dangerous complications that causes. Others become night owls, staying up all night and sleeping all day.
Magic causes itches, and once one starts scratching, it is almost impossible to stop. Mages are often recognised by their torn and leather-like skin where they have strafed it with their nails. Depending on what the GM wants, the itching could fade over time, or be permanent, with a concequent loss in skill/stamina points.
Whilst almost all rulers ban black magic, some ban even the whitest of white magic as well. It may be because of religious issues, fear of magic in general, or fear that it will change the balance of power. Such rulers have magic-users put to death or thrown into horrible prisons if captured, and some have fearsome police forces such as the Hexenjagers to rigidly enforce the anti-magic laws. It is a brave, stupid or insanely powerful magic-user who will dare cast spells here.
Here, only the clerics of the main religion of this country can cast magic, given to them by their God or Goddess. All other magic is either strictly forbidden as in #15, or just refuses to work, negated by the holy power within that land. To learn magic one must be accepted as a member of the clergy and devote one’s entire life to Holy Orders, and most would-be magic users are unable or unwilling to do that.
The bigger a spell, the more it hurts the caster. Fire magic or ice magic may cause burning or localised frostbite; other spells may cause other kinds of pain, ranging from easily bearable to totally agonizing. Magic is best avoided unless one would get in more pain from not casting a spell.
18-It hurts others
As with #17, but it hurts other people, meaning that magic is most likely as illegal as other forms of hurting people. A person hurt by your spell might either react violently himself or herself or call the police or it’s equivalent to have you arrested and brought before the courts. Here, anti-magic laws are popular and most people, most of the time, have no problem with obeying them and no sympathy for lawbreakers either.
To cast spells, body parts are needed, ranging from those of small animals to human body parts depending on the type of spell. The fresher the body part, the stronger the spell’s effect will be. Some body parts are rare and hard to find, others are highly illegal to possess. Each part will crumble to dust after a single spell.
Magic attracts the attention of those from the Netherworld. A small spell will bring shades or perhaps imps, these imps will offer their services to the caster; as long as the caster gives them what they want, they will fulfil their side of the bargain. If you try and cheat them, they bite, and their bites really hurt. Larger spells attract seriously dangerous demons that will try and offer bigger things in exchange for the caster’s soul. If rejected, they tend to accept this.
Really big spells attract demons of such a size and power that they see humans as nothing more then tasty snacks, and tend to be fatal in this life and for the caster’s spell too.
Magic causes the caster to age. Something really small, like a spark to light a fire, will take so little off that there is no real difference. A ball of werelight will slowly but steadily eat into the caster’s life-force, but only to the extent that smoking or unhealthy eating would. Larger spells may leech years from the caster’s life, visibly aging him or her, and too many of these will leave the caster as a doddering old man or even a withered corpse.
Magic cannot be wielded by any one person, no matter how wise or strong or rich they are. Two people can create magical sparks and other such tiny cantrips. Three can create a small magical cantrip. To cast things such as lightning bolts needs at least five people, and for anything big you need a whole village or more of people. This makes illegal magic hard to cast as it only takes one person to rat out the lawbreakers to law enforcement, but some cults and mafia-type organisations have enough people to cast such negative spells.
Magic causes random death. A cantrip will kill a fly or an ant; by casting enough cantrips it is possible to deal with insect swarms. Larger spells kill larger creatures, like a cat or dog, and certain spells are banned by law, as the cost is the random death of someone nearby. If there is nothing living around to die, then the spell will claim the life of the caster.
When spells are cast, they cause the caster to smell horribly for 24 hours afterwards. White magic, such as healing spells, and neutral magic, smells like too much perfume, whilst black magic causes the caster to stink like a sewer, so that all the city guards have to do to track down the culprit is to follow what their noses are telling them. No amount of cleaning or perfuming will dent this smell until it fades away of it’s own accord.
25-Dead man walking
It is not just the foul and forbidden arts of necromancy that raises the dead. Any magic, if cast within a mile of an uncremated dead body, can pool around the body and when it reaches a high enough concentration, pull the soul back into the body and ease the body’s passage to the surface. The dead body, rotten with decay, will then try and regain its former life, becoming murderous when thwarted.
Magic causes the caster to glow for 24 hours. In itself, this is not all that bad, although it may make sleeping hard, but in countries where magic has been banned, this can amount to a death sentence unless covered up with heavy cloaks. And in the summer this may attract as much attention as the glowing would.
For whatever reason, only one race can cast spells, and they have used their power to enslave the others, resulting in an apartheid state ruled by brutality. Should a member of another race somehow find out how to use magic, he or she will become a public enemy with a bounty set on his or her head.
To cast a spell, one must have a tattoo, the size of which depends on the spell. If scratched during the period when it itches, it casts the spell randomly, and each tattoo only has three spells in it. Also, a spell will not work if cast through clothing. Most magic-users only have a very few spells to cast and a very few tattoos to cast them with.
Spells take a very long time to cast, something that has been shortened dramatically with the invention of spell wheels, where the spell is written on paper, put in one of these wheels attached to a stick, and spun. Even then it takes over a hundred spins to cast the spell, so if you want to use it in a battle situation you need to spin it 99 times before the battle begins, giving you the magical equivalent of a cocked flintlock pistol.
Forget about using a fire spell to heat you up in an artic waste. Spells are bound to the climate. Fire spells can only be cast in deserts or near volcanoes, water spells on or near lakes, rivers, seas or swamps, and earth spells in mountain ranges or underground. Only air-based spells can be cast anywhere that there is air. With more complex spells, a healing spell, for example, needs to be cast in a place with plenty of plant and animal life around.
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? Responses (9)
While some of the ideas are just minor variations on one another, such as the food and water restrictions this is really a quite brilliant 30!
I do find it quite neat myself, yes.
Wow, way to create 30 unique magic limitations. Each one could be expanded easily into a distinct magic system, each emphasizing how to avoid the danger present. I very much like this one.
This is one of your best 30's Cheka! Not all are gems, but there is a lot of really cool stuff here. You could even use this list as curses to apply to Mages who tamper with the wrong item, or insult the wrong person.
Some lovely ideas here! You could construct quite a few magical traditions around them.
Useful sub. Adopting things from fantasy novels or such to help create a richer magic system (especially if you are only used to a Vancian Magic system in your games). It things you would read in GURPs Magic or GURPs Thaumatology (and a couple of other generic systems magic books). Still useful.
I pretty much agree with what everyone else said. I especially like the bit about using lead-lined boots to keep yourself on the ground.
Great ideas! This would be great for a setting in which each mage has a limitation, but doesn't find out what it is until they go through mag-puberty.