This is an alternate magic system for a fantasy world. You can’t just drop this one in into any world, it has to be appropriate for the world.
All magic is performed by summoning, commanding, removing the spirits of things. Invisibility is the summoning spirits to cloak you or removing the spirit of your appearance. Firestarting is the summoning of a fire spirit, while a fire bolt, would require summoning and commanding (Go there). Healing would be summoning a life spirit, or banishing a disease spirit. You get the idea.
Many of these more notable or powerful spirits are worshiped as one of the million gods. All spell caster function as religious leaders, as do the priests of Shinto. Many of you just went, no I don’t want Japanese stuff in my campaign. Well this spiritualistic and animistic take is very close to Druidic and Celtic worship… very European.
Since most of the magic requires placating and flattering (i.e. prayer) a spirit to do what you want, there is much chanting and apparent prayer.
The first and last innovation of this magic was to write "prayers" on wheels that can be spun. As a "prayer" wheel is spun, the prayer is "said". Say something enough times (1000) and the spirit will respond.
Thus it has been for hundreds of years. The priests support the nobles maintaining the status quo. Temples have dozens of prayer wheels being turned by bored young temple kids, all to generate magical effects.
One young priest saw children play with something, a top. They battled with their tops. The young priest saw immediate applications. By inscribing a prayer mantra to a bey (type of top that is spun by a holder and the pulling of a cord), the requisite 1000 repetitions of the prayer can be made in 90 seconds rather than 30 minutes. By including a mantra to the spirit of the Bey, to increase its speed and duration of speed, spell effects can be generated in short notice. (15 seconds tops)
The elder priests do not approve of these Beys, as they apparently trivialize the prayer wheels. Yet young priests see the way to grant great magics to everyone, not just nobles.
Now these young bey priests waunder about, dueling, and providing magical services to the masses. Someday there will be a schism in the faith, but right now… you have young bey priests and older prayer wheel priests.
Additional Ideas (13)
In terms of adding something to the idea - the first thing that springs to mind is rumours that some kind of malevolent Bey is in circulation - with dire effects for anyone who finds and uses it. Perhaps the mantra allows the spirit to possess the body of the user.
I've tried to imagine it in a European way, but it just seems very Asian to me, what with the prayer wheels, spirits, and so on.
I sort of think of this world not as Asian, nor Western, but one of the non based historically inspired fantasies. (Sort of like DnD which has Eastern Monks mashed with Western European fantasy).
I am thinking castles, knights, oppressed peasants, religious leaders and nobles basically running the world... especially if they have magic on their side. Attack a castle with a chapel with monks, and they spin a few wheels and magic defense occur. Need rain, goto the chapel spin the wheel. In a world with such easy magical assistance, the only advantage a given lord would have would be how efficently they ran their peasants and soldiers. Thus peasants would be run to the ground and the soldiers would be well trained before being run into the ground.
Oh... put a prayer of some kind on the bey's spindle... then it could do limited magic too (like make tops spin faster and harder)
I would think if they were short prayers, you could have a number of them on a top. If you have a stackable top (rings linked together), each ring could have a prayer... allowing you to make a complicated multipart spell.
SO you would have "spell components" of rings for your top or specific tops.
More powerful tops should be whistling tops. If you add the right kind of whistles, it would add a sematic component to the spell generation.
Bey or top spirits would be something you would probably start to work magic with. So by empowering your top's spirit, you could get more effects out of your top maybe?
And the concept of Evil Bey would be something the Status Quo Priests would probably be spreading. (Of course, there could be "evil" or dark spirits inhabiting tops.. just like they could inhabit trees and rocks and roads).
Bey priests giving magical assistance to the peasants will disrupt the way things are. Of course they are probably acting closer to the religions original values.
So then you have a wind powered magical engine.
It could be helping the land, shielding a border, or an apocolyptic weapon crafted by an evil mage. Very cool.
Trust Agar to find the ingenious, yet scary, application.
It should require a human's spirit or will to activate power from a prayer wheel, but that just means there is someone who is at the wind mill (or water mill) at all times.
On that vein, you could make a cart axil empowered as well.
And remember, the big prayer wheels are in temples, castles, and so on, with priests pushing them.
04:16:35 manfred Good. Back to some creativity n' stuff. Or not?
04:17:09 MoonHunter Creativity is good
04:17:48 MoonHunter I threw some ideas into the wind recently and people seem to be responding to them.
04:18:31 manfred Well, it's the Idea Guild afterall.
04:18:39 MoonHunter Who would of thought prayer wheels and tops would make such an interesting magic system??
04:19:40 manfred weird, but interesting
04:22:23 MoonHunter But the Bey world will expand. The magical technology of the prayer wheel does impact the world fairly easily
04:23:40 manfred But what say the spirits? Are they not insulted by this?
04:24:04 MoonHunter Not yet.
04:24:29 MoonHunter That would be something to consider. But of course every prayer to goad them into doing something gives them some prayer energy
04:24:38 MoonHunter So you get what you put into it
04:26:26 manfred But it's not true flattering. The spirits are not really talked to.
04:26:53 MoonHunter Not like people can hear and see them in the first place
04:28:14 manfred There is a difference between talking in person about the good sides of your product, and sending zillions of spam e-mails.
04:29:05 MoonHunter Think of in the terms of food
04:29:16 MoonHunter You are a being that needs cookies to live
04:29:53 manfred Is it not also in emotions imparted during the prayer?
04:30:05 MoonHunter You can get lots of okay cookies, a pitiful number of good cookes (very good, but not enough to be filling), or no cookies... which would you choose
04:30:15 manfred ...the concentration...
04:30:17 MoonHunter Emotion= flavor of the cookie
04:30:51 MoonHunter So figure that they want good cookies, but are willing to settle for lots of okay cookides
04:31:06 manfred Hah! We disagree!
04:31:07 MoonHunter I have lost the ability to spell tonight
04:31:32 manfred ...so not all spirits will settle for this!
04:31:38 MoonHunter Depends if the spirit can hold out
04:31:48 manfred Not the really powerfull ones.
04:32:03 MoonHunter if the spirit can not be prayed to for any result, people might not think it is a real spirit
04:32:10 MoonHunter thus it getting no cookies
04:32:24 manfred There are also the older, conservative priests.
04:32:45 manfred It might gather to their needs only.
04:34:56 MoonHunter true
04:35:12 MoonHunter or certain powerful spirits that only take good cookies
04:35:41 MoonHunter The highly sought after, high powered (godly) spirits
04:36:08 MoonHunter However, The wind along this minor road spirit... might just do anything you ask
04:36:15 manfred Yes. They won't take the cheap stuff. Not them.
04:36:53 MoonHunter But in the land of a million gods, there is always someone to do the work... if you apply yourself
04:37:30 manfred Hmmm... it is in your reply to Agar's post. Someone has to activate the magic, and it better be someone skilled. You can make a wheel turn forever, but someone must invest at least a bit of himself.
04:37:55 manfred So it is not "for free".
04:39:29 MoonHunter No. The windmill idea is against what the priests are doing (having the hapless apprentices turn important wheels 24/7)
04:40:27 MoonHunter But if you have someone praying at the windmill...
04:41:00 MoonHunter Of course, the windmill is not turning the prayer wheel faster than the team of hapless apprenticess
04:42:05 MoonHunter And quality of priestly skill = quality of baker... if we extend the cookie analogy
04:42:49 manfred Yes. A good priest is still a good priest. Fortunately.
04:43:15 MoonHunter well it is all about your prayer skill...
04:43:43 MoonHunter quality of service you provide to your customers... your flock/ congregation is a completely different thing
04:44:18 manfred Now wait...
04:44:39 manfred ...it is also about the text of the prayer, right?
04:45:07 manfred Not just "Need replacement tire for my car, please quickly."
04:45:30 manfred It MUST be written well.
04:45:49 MoonHunter I am sure it needs to be in a specific formula
04:46:00 MoonHunter and flowery
04:46:14 MoonHunter flattering and conjoling the spirit, rather than ordering
04:46:18 MoonHunter ...
04:46:35 manfred ...and, they must know the spirits name I think.
04:46:45 manfred Not just any spirit.
04:48:19 manfred So they must be good writers.
04:49:14 manfred Ritual formulas aside, they should make Danielle Steel cry.
04:49:15 MoonHunter Or at least understand the mechanics of rhyme and meter
04:50:11 manfred Is probably a part of their training, but they still need some natural talent!
04:50:13 MoonHunter The Church of England/ Episcopal church has a required class in their seminaries on composing prayers
04:50:29 MoonHunter On a world with magic being performed by prayers... I am sure there would be several
04:50:30 manfred So not everyone is going to be a priest.
04:51:04 MoonHunter true
04:51:14 MoonHunter If everyone could be a priest, then why have priests?
04:52:31 MoonHunter everyone can pray and maybe get an answer... the priests, at least on this world, pray the correct way... with focus.. with emotion...and get results
04:53:00 MoonHunter Though I think it should be a skill that is modified by some kind of piety score
04:53:47 MoonHunter A devout layperson, with some skill in prayer might get better results than a Richeleu-esk priest with a low actual piety, but a high skill in prayer
04:54:16 manfred +/- the sympathy of a given spirit of course...
04:54:32 MoonHunter always a modifier
04:54:40 manfred Like your family spirits.
04:54:53 manfred And what about the names?
04:54:58 MoonHunter That might work
04:55:41 MoonHunter names might be more like Job descriptions
04:55:44 manfred Are they necessary to know? I think the name is not necessary, but it gives better chances.
04:55:56 MoonHunter The angels are supposed to be named like that... the name defines who and what they are.
04:56:02 manfred I like more the "true name" approach.
04:56:11 MoonHunter It might... You could come up with a huge pile of modifiers
04:56:56 manfred Then again, you would know only a handful of true names.
04:57:19 manfred They are not written on the trees or something.
04:58:40 manfred You can pray to the spirit of the lake, but it sounds much better to pray to Sasudsioooul for a favour...
05:00:16 manfred Even simple villagers may know a name or two...
05:01:40 manfred This world can have potential.
05:03:27 MoonHunter That is what I was thinking
05:03:41 MoonHunter At first it was just a cool gimmick for the magik system
05:04:33 MoonHunter But the more you tinker with it... and add explanations as to why things are the way they are
05:04:54 MoonHunter It gets more intersting.
Though those ancient texts hanging out in the back of the temple, if properly researched may be a treasure trove of useful names and prayers.
I love the windmill idea. When he said that I imagined a giant shield of protection like a bubble over the appropriate lands. A series of these protection mills could be the sole protection from some outside force, and their failing allow the encroachment of the cliched evil. So how do these wind mills make the protection bubble if they are turned by wind. What if there were sacrifices that fed the necessity of human touch to give them them the power? Would sacrifice work? Probably depends on the spirits that are being asked for the protection.
So perhaps a person moving it physically is the good guys version of things, while the dark side can use that but also could have the added benefit of sacrifice, whether it be blood or life.
Would animals be allowed to replace the person? A mule spinning a large prayer wheel perhaps? Again, it might depend on the prayer and requested result. Some requests may actually prefer animals to humans to spin the wheel or whatever.
Blacksmiths sharpening wheels? I see a way to imbue magic into weapons perhaps?
Just brainstorming. I like the concept.
Blood magic tied to a prayer wheel. Perhaps for the dealing with dark spirits or demons. So those wheels will need to be lubricated by blood.
Nah. Animals should not be able to replace a human. (Though their blood might lubricate a dark wheel).
Blacksmiths sharpening wheels? Technically possible, but the person turning the wheel would need to be praying, so a priest and blacksmith working together.... Hmmmm.
There is probably a sect or order of priests who do magikal weapons and armor (and some other items). They probably keep their mystical techniques secret and have been using prayer wheel/ sharpening wheel to make things for centuries. They will probably embrace the Bey Priests to a limited extent.
Wind Mills are just not efficient ways to spin this wheels constantly, even with flywheels. One jr priest can turn a wheel constantly and faster than most windmills, until the technology gets notably better (with fly wheels and metal barrings). D'OH!! No Wind Mills, but Water Wheels. They are not very fast, but they are constant. The problem being that they are not very fast, unless you do some serious mechanical gear work. Then you can have priests in training sitting in front of fast moving wheels.
Note: This might be a "new" innovation, just like the use of Beys and Tops. The priests are highly tradition based/ conservative.
The discovery to Tops is supposed to be a Point of Event, a dramatic moment in their history. The slow and plodding heirarchy of priests, supporting the status quo, giving "active prayers" for the nobles and the rich, is now at risk as Bey using priests can now easily give spell effects for the masses (Remember 1000 perfect repetitions to make a spell happen makes for really long spells... a Bey can do that in seconds or a minute). This means you are having a "technical industrial revolution" of sorts with a religious twist. New ideas are being tried out for the first times in centuries. People would be trying the wind mills or waterwheels to create magical factories.
Another idea would be to have linked wheels. Especially if you use powered wheels, you could use one as a power sump. If you have one large wheel, with several smaller wheels with identical prayers inscribed, and say the large wheel turns at a very low rate, powered by water, attended by assorted acolytes, you could also have other, smaller wheels, being turned by apprentices, which are linked to the large wheel, and thus allow it to build power more quickly. This application could be taken so far as to allow multiple bey priests to link their tops, so you could have VERY fast spell effects with several priests working together. It could even have limited battle possibilities, as it would allow such a quick focus of power that you could create offensive spell effects like a gale or a storm.
I think we should discuss also something else, we have to know more about the spirits themselves. This magic is all about spirits afterall.
What is a spirit? Where do they live? Are they only invisible in our world, or does the the Spirit World exist? Are they a part of the Nature, that can be called upon for help, or do they need prayers to survive?
As I see it, if spirits die from lack of interest, then where do they come from? If there is an endless number of them, simply start to worship anything, and *poof* you have a spirit one day. But if the Spirit World exists, maybe the spirits that are forgotten loose their interest/binding to our world. Later, more intensive prayers and offerings may call it back, if at all.
But how comes so many spirits are known to this day? I think this is the result of a long shamanic history. A Shaman is the person that travels (with his mind...)to the Spirit World, gets to know new spirits, and maybe persuades them to help him later. In time, relatively many spirits may be known (even if held secret, knowledge has a tendency to spread), mostly those willing to stay focused on our world (that like those cookies), and a priest class is born: those that only enjoy the fruits of the work of others. While a shaman must undertake dangerous journeys to another strange world, a priest can stay comfortable in the temple, calling upon known spirits. So priests become more numerous over time, and shaman strange and rare.
(Ironically, the priests, that conservatively frown upon new practices were frowned upon by the shamen once upon a time... The wheel of time turns...)
So do no new spirits arrive? No. Spirits present in our world may communicate with their former world, some return, some ask for help, some are even 'recruiters' for powerful and skilled priests.
And do not forget ancestor spirits...
This magic system seriously impacts the world it belongs to, especially since there is supposed to be no other magic system on the world. That being the case, the setting and the magic are almost inseperable. I think I will be creating a setting forge thread for this world soon.
All magic is performed by entreating spirits. This is done by either focused prayer or one repeated 1000 times (usually with the help of a prayer wheel).
We have a staid and stationary priesthood.
The priesthood is the only source of magic, as they can empower a prayer wheel which is a bulky stationary thing.
The nobles buy into this by supporting priests and chapels with prayer wheels. These chapel priests do all the basic magics for the family and household.
Since magic can make all holdings equal, the only way you can "get ahead" is by pushing "the human factor", i.e. your peasants harder to make them more productive (or get more work out of them. Life as a peasant will suck for any peasant of a noble who is trying to gt ahead.
Since focused prayer will be a hard thing to do, most people will never see magic. Since priests need chapels and support, only people with money can support priests and magic,
Thus comes in the Bey/ Top magic, a revolution that can take magic to the common people and free the priests from their "servitude" to the nobles and the rich. It also means that those who like being employed by the rich and nobles need to supress this bey magic, because if commoners can have magic, they can deflect spells of control that the nobles have their priests cast.
Makes for a good world background to be a "rebel" priest, a freedom fighter, or a reforming noble.