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Nocturnal Ruminations: Magic, Pt II (aka the Blowning Uppening)

11 Jan

The Magic System in Cultura is a sort of machine, if you will.  It requires a fuel, an engine, and a lever to make it work.  Those looking for full explication on how this machine works here may be sorely disappointed, but I’ve gotta keep something behind the screen, do I not?  However, I can use the Fireball/Firebolt spell example as a means to an end to describe what Cultura does differently and what this means for your character in the long run.

A multitude of fire spells

True to real world culture, there’s no one type of magic; there’s no one type of spell; and there’s no one type of fireball.  Can characters attuned the Fire element, with a philosophy bent to magical destruction, and a casting style that uses components feel exactly like a level 6 D&D Wizard and expect the same results? Sure.  You can, if that’s what you’re looking to play.  There are a multitude of ways to skin the cliched and groaning cat in the corner.  Using a very basic example of the question answered in this paragraph, we can describe what a caster does in Cultura.

A character’s philosophy allows them to apply a theme to their magics, tying it up in a neat little bow of interrelated effects and images.  Through Fractive effects, a caster can expect to gain the ability to directly damage a target through the Destruction effect.  Drawing from the power of their personal spiritual connection to the element, the theme modifies the spell in the caster’s head before being expelled in a roaring ball of flame.  The basic game mechanic, Spellcraft Rating, determines whether the caster can generate the spell and hit their target.  In the end, the system is simple: a die roll against a difficulty created by the range, power, and number of effects tied with the spell.  At their barest essence, themes inform the player of what their character can do and how their character thinks about magic.  It defines what your character can perceive to do with their magic.

Wait, there’s more (thank you, Billy Mays)!  This is not the only way through which a caster can manifest a fireball/firebolt spell!  A caster that believes this magic comes from the gods may think this a representation of judgment or vengeance against their enemies.  A natural based caster cannot even draw forth a seething ball of fire; they have to figure out how to make all ready created fires stronger or they have to emulate a creature that knows how to breathe fire.  Another type of caster may drain their own body heat to generate the heat for this magic, or they could take heat from the air.  Depending on what and how the character believes magic and spells change their shape and scope.  Not everyone’s character can do everything in the world with their spells.  Even still some characters may believe their fire spell can heal, cauterizing their ally’s wounds and restoring energy (if not slightly disfiguring them in the process).

Freeform Fire

This is not all a fire spell can do, either.  By weaving and crafting additional effects into a spell (at the cost of increased Wode and difficulty), the caster can detonate their fireball, doing the D&D version of the spell with a blast radius, or they can attach a damage over time (known in Cultura as Prolonged Destruction) effect to the end of their spell like the World of Warcraft version.  A caster could tie the direct damage effect to the ball of fire and then have it freeze the target. For a more Magicka based bent, the caster could empower it with a Fire Element ability to empower it.  The only limit is your imagination in the application of the themes your character knows.

What does this mean?

If you can dream it up and your character can honestly consider it, then there’s probably a spell for it.  It’s simple, really, there are basic spells and there are advanced spells.  You can use someone else’s or you can craft your own and make them your signature.  That’s the point of magic!  It’s designed to approximate the ideas of magic from the real world, meaning that it’s broad, esoteric, and as deep as you want.  If all you want to do is lob magic missiles, fireballs, heal, and what not that’s up to you.  Whereas magic should be like mixing chemicals and compounds around and coming up with your own thoughts, Physical Combat is more straight forward with tactical applications.  That’s the great part of it; think chess versus an erector set.

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