A different sort of framework for spells & magic
I came up with this idea working on #Stonetop, but I’m unsure whether I’ll use it. I think it might make more sense for a more magic-rich game. Anyhow, figured I’d put it out here for feedback. And maybe someone else will pick it up and use it.
The core idea: spells are something that theoretically anyone can learn and do, but they require that you draw on power (usually power from beyond yourself).
First, spells would be things that could be learned from various sources: ancient writings, spirits or sorcerers willing to teach you, etc. Very similar to the spells in core DW.
We’d have two additional basic (special?) moves:
Study a Spell
When you spend a few weeks studying a spell with the intent to master it, roll+INT. On a 10+, you have mastered the spell and can now cast it. On a 7-9, you haven’t mastered it but you make progress; take +1 forward to study this same spell again.
Cast a Spell
When you draw on a source of power to cast a magic spell, roll +INT. On a 7+, the spell is cast but choose 1 (on a 10+) or 2 (on a 7-9):
– The tags of your power source manifests strongly in the spell’s effects
– You draw unwelcome attention or put yourself in a spot
– Unless you can provide more power, the spell’s effects are diminished
Whatever you choose, the GM will fill in the details.
Sources of power would be associated with tags, such as:
• fiery – consuming, impassioned, destructive, bright
• icy – cold, calm, static, numbing
• electric – fast, blinding, stunning, powerful
• thunderous – loud, forceful, obvious, terrifying
• dark – numbing, hiding, deceptive, despairing
• light – illuminating, invigorating, hopeful, bright
• stony – solid, strong, unmoving, unchanging
• green – growing, invigorating, changing, entangling
• aqueous – flowing, smothering, cleansing, life-giving
• bloody – emotional, raw, living, wild
• airy – delicate, agile, insubstantial, unbound
• chaotic – unpredictable, formless, changing, destructive
• axiomatic – absolute, inflexible, idealistic, unchanging
• necrotic – deathly, decaying, enervating, poisonous
So… by default anyone can learn a spell, but you need a source of power to actually cast one. And if you cast a spell harnessing power appropriate for the spell (e.g. use fiery power to cast magic missile), then that choice of “the tags of your power source manifests strongly” is a no-brainer: flaming magic missiles! But if you use dark power to cast the Light spell, that choice could result in a flickering, pale light that doesn’t reveal all it should.
Now, the primary spellcasting classes would have some moves to enhance this, such as:
When you spend time (an hour at least) drawing on the magic from a place of power, gain 1-3 charges. The GM will tell you how many, and what tags are associated with them. Record them below. You can hold no more charges than your CON. Among other things, you can expend a charge to cast a spell. If the spell requires more power, you can expend an extra charge.
Maker of Talsimans
Requires Siphon, level 6+
When you use Siphon, you can store charges in one or more specially prepared objects that you carry on your person. Each talisman you carry is a burden greater than its physical mass, with a Weight equal to charges it holds. Should anyone but you handle a talisman, its charge dissipates unpleasantly but harmlessly.
When you counter a spell or magical effect that would otherwise affect you, roll+INT. On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 10+, both.
• You suffer a diminished effect (though others are affected normally)
• You can Siphon the power or draw on it to cast a spell of your own, right now.
Requires Siphon, Counterspell, level 6+
When you consume a spell or magical effect, roll+CON. On a 7+, you gain 1 charge. On a 7-9, you diminish the magic, weakening it or reducing its effect. On a 10+, you negate the magic entirely.
When you get a few hours uninterrupted sleep on bare soil or natural rock, gain 1 charge (either green or stony, your choice).
requires level 6+
When you cast a spell, you can mark a debility to draw on your own body as a source of power (chaotic).
When you spill the lifeblood of a helpless or willing creature, you can draw on its power (bloody, plus whatever else the GM tells you) to cast a spell or Siphon it away as a charge.