Aelsif magic system: Cigarettes and coffee with Kliffbekkr mages - Myth-Weavers


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Aelsif magic system: Cigarettes and coffee with Kliffbekkr mages

Aelsif magic system: Cigarettes and coffee with Kliffbekkr mages

For review, I'm submitting the basics of Aelsif's magic system. Preparing spells, spirit and aura points and various archetypes' casting quirks, with quotes from various people from Kliffbekkr Martial Academy. I'm not sure this is at all helpful to the article, but I'm trying something new.

The three mages are Mávro Vóreios (teacher of fundamental spellcraft), Hanz Zauberer (sorcery professor) and Alice Häxason (12th-year student and president of the Kliffbekkr Witchcraft Club).

Aelsif uses an attunement and energy based system for its standard spells. Rather than preparing individual spell slots in Vancian fashion, you attune spells you have access to and can cast them at the cost of spirit and aura points. Attuned spells take time to swap and require a spellcraft check. Casters are sorted into innate, erudite and ecclesiastic categories, each of which uses a different ability score for the power of their spells (not all spells scale), the DC of their saving throws (not all spells allow saves), in addition to differences in how they learn spells, the DC of spell swapping and how helpful a spellbook is in that process. (Note: You do NOT need a spellbook to cast spells.)

"Spells are complex magic, effects achieved through skilled manipulation of both ethers in tandem. They're hardly the only form of magic, but they're the most recognisable. When a soldier's body regenerates from a gunshot wound, that's a form of magic as true as any spell. But it's only when a spell is cast that all people recognise it as magic." -Dr. Zauberer

Attunement slots:
Attunement slots represent how many spells per spell level (Aelsif has five spell levels, but you won't get them all right away) you may have ready to cast at any given time.

"We all have to prepare to cast spells, but the amount of forethought is entirely up to the caster. It's like, you can only carry so many tools. Do you plan ahead all the tools you need for the day? Or do you just carry with you the tools you use the most, and make do with what you have? It's much the same with spells. Dr. Zauberer may encourage his students to take the former approach, but I prefer the latter." -Alice

Spirit points:
A magic pool, notably used for a variety of class features even amongst non-casting classes, that is used quickly but regenerates on its own fairly quickly. Represents a caster's ability to affect the spirit ether, which is not very well understood and you can thank religion for that. Regen varies by environment, also regenerates faster under the influence of alcohol or narcotic drugs (does not stack). All casters (except bards) have the realignment ability, allowing them to recover spirit much faster at the cost of aura. Spirit is determined by your level and charisma.

"Spirit isn't well understood. We know its physical effects, that it can move objects and create vibrations, burn like acid, create temporary objects, and we know there's entire creatures made mostly out of spirit that seem physical but have little actual mass. But we still don't really know much about what it actually is, what natural forces it works on, or how we even manipulate it. The latter isn't entirely conscious, I don't think, but what we do know is you form a... sort of imprint, or a shadow, in the ether and that's damaged from the feedback of your magic." -Mr. Vóreios

Aura points:
Also a magic pool used for a variety of class features even amongst non-casting classes. Respresents a caster's ability to affect the aura ether, which takes energy and focus and leaves the user tired and stressed. Aura is used somewhat slower than spirit points but only regenerates while resting and takes a couple hours to return to full, faster under the influence of alcohol. If you can't afford to rest or need it back fast, the only way is using stimulants. You can overdraw on aura, but once you do all aura use is disabled until your aura returns to a positive number, you become lethargic if atively threatened and if not actively threatened you become semi-conscious and need to save not to pass out. Aura is determined by your level and constitution.

"We aren't very popular in this country. I don't think the typical Leif Olafson has any idea how tiring and stressful magic is, they just see us cast a couple spells and need a smoke break. They think we're lazy. Work ethic has always been important to the dwarven people, and that's why I've never really been at home anywhere but at the school. Thankfully, my family's always been spellcasters, and had enough money to send me here. And to keep me well stocked in cigarettes and coffee." -Alice

Innate spellcasting:
Innate casters are talented and kinesthetic. They only really learn magic by doing it, having a hard time with instructions and even demonstrations. In-game, they have lower spellcraft DCs to learn new spells on their own but get less benefit from an instructor and learning materials. They also swap known spells easier, but get little benefit from a spellbook. They tend to have fewer attunement slots, and use charisma for spell power and DCs when applicable.

"I don't know how I do it, really. I always ace practical exams but I've barely been scrapping by on written ones since I got here. I just... I don't know, I don't think that way. But then, I'm told that's normal for a witch." -Alice

Erudite spellcasting:
Erudite casters are analytical and visual. They learn magic best by seeing it and figuring it out, allowing them to do well when demonstrations and instruction are given. In-game, they are in between the other two for the spellcraft DCs to learn new spells on their own, the benefit of an instructor and learning materials, the DC to swap known spells and the benefit of a spellbook. They use intelligence for spell power and DCs when applicable.

"I've always tried to understand magic. When I see somebody cast a fireball, I look at it and I think 'Okay, where are they putting the heat, how much, how fast. Where's the aura for that heat being projected from? How is the spirit ether being used to contain the gas, how compressed is it? How fast? Is this a good design, and how could I improve it?'. I've always impressed on the little ones how important it is to take these kinds of notes. And to use a pencil, because you might change some of it later." -Mr. Vóreios

Ecclesiastic spellcasting:
Ecclesiastic casters learn by rote and are auditory. They learn magic best by being told how to do it, and having it hammered into their brain every step of how to do it, as is the common method of teaching magic in religious institutions (hence the name). In-game, they have the hardest time learning new spells on their own, benefit the most from an instructor and learning materials, have the highest DC to swap known spells and benefit the most from a spellbook. They use faith for spell power and DCs when applicable.

"Theurges have always annoyed me. Don't get me wrong, they're a dream to teach, they just need you to explain something to them and give them a textbook, and they'll practice until they've got it. My problem is, they don't really understand ANYTHING they do, not even a little bit. When they cast, they hear the voice in their head repeat the instructions in brief, and they just remember what each term means from rote memorisation. That voice is a useful tool, sure, and I'll admit it's impressive to turn a mental illness to your advantage like that, but memorisation is NOT understanding, and I'm not convinced they can ever learn a new spell on their own." -Dr Zauberer

Casting quirks:
Each archetype of caster has a quirk to the way they cast spells that necessitates a special component always be present to cast a spell, which provides a handy way of disabling them if you know the caster you're dealing with. The exception would be bards, which is funny because other than that and having an enormous and well varied spell list they're the worst at casting. All shamans (druids, gurus and rangers) use nature magic that requires a cost, and so need a material component for every spell. All clerics (priests/priestesses, evangelists and archivists) recall the process of their magic through prayer and that means there's always a verbal component. Psions (innate, erudite and ecclesiastic) perceive and magic through gestures, and always have somatic components to their spells. Finally, mages (wizards, sorcerers/sorceresses, occultists, witches and theurges) use an object to focus and project their spirit, so their spells always have a focus component. These are all related to how they control the spirit ether, but they're also entirely psychological and have feats to make them easier on the caster.

"We all carry wands here. We have to. I don't know how priests and them cast spells without a catalyst. They've told me since I was in first year to never lose my wand, because a mage without their wand is about as good as a soldier without their weapon. Of course, I lost mine all the time when I was in first year. Mr. Vóreios lectured me about it at least once a week. Usually more than that." -Alice

List types:
All casters have a spell list, and while I'm not going to list them here I will list the types of spells that appear on each, which are simplified to "utility", "support", "mind-affecting", "healing" and "damage". If it's not on the following list for each archetype, they have very few spells of that type. Bards have a good mix of all five spell types. Shamans focus on utility, support, mind-affecting and healing spells. Clerics focus on support, mind-affecting, healing and damage spells. Psions focus on utility, support, mind-affecting and damage spells. Mages, finally, have the largest spell list and can cast all five spell types.

"While I respect other kinds of spellcasters, I've always held that the approach of mages is superior. We understand that magic is not a power granted to us by gods or spirits, but our own power. It's a natural thing, not some divine or otherwise supernatural gift and understanding that removes the artificial limits others put on themselves. We can do anything they can do, and as much as specialising is not a bad thing and perhaps they might do some things better, being able to choose where and if to specialise is, I think, better." -Dr. Zauberer

You need to attune spells to cast them. Casting takes spirit and aura. Spirit comes back on its own, aura needs rest or consumables. Innate casters use charisma, kinesthetic learning and talent. Erudite casters use intelligence, visual learning and analysis. Ecclesiastic casters use faith, auditory learning and rote memorisation. Each archetype has a special requirement to cast (except bards) which can be exploited to disable their casting and certain kinds of spells they focus on (except bards and mages).

"The most important thing about magic, though, is the potential it has. Whether that potential is used to create or destroy, well, that's up to the caster. And as much as I recognise that destruction has its place and its purpose, I've always preferred magic that creates, protects and nurtures. Which is probably why they assigned me to teach 5-year olds." -Mr. Vóreios

Now for some practical examples.

"Greater Fire Orb" is a greater spell, which is the fourth spell level of five. It has a spirit cost of 80 and an aura cost of 60. It's a orb (what D&D calls a "spread") fire attack with primary and secondary radii of 20ft and 40ft, dealing 4d8+Abl in its primary radius and 4+Abl in its secondary radius. If cast by an erudite caster Abl is Int, so by 13th level when it's unlocked it likely deals about 4d8+7 within 20ft (average 25) and 11 damage out to to 40ft. As hit points do not scale directly to level in this game, that's actually not a bad amount of damage for an AoE spell of its level.

Most creatures invest in HP, so 10-15 would be normal at that level and this fireball is almost certain to down enemies in one hit if the damage is unmitigated. An opponent in steel full plate, however, is likely going to still be standing because they have an ER of 16 (fire), which won't get them through two attacks but they only need to survive one to put a bullet through your chest. Other opponents won't be strong against fire, and if all else is equal they'd only have ER 8 (fire), or they might be wearing lighter armour. So what they need, obviously, is a reflex save. The reflex DC here is 25, and it allows them to take half damage (rounded down, min 1) before other mitigation.

Obviously using a spell that deals a damage type your opponent isn't strong against is valuable. However, avoiding a save the enemy's good at is also important, and if you don't know what save is the best you can try just not allowing a save at all. Some opponents may be way too tanky for you to deal with using direct damage. For example, if an opponent's armour is full plate they are strong against fire, cold and electricity and their only "weaknesses" are sonic and acid, neither of which does much damage. If that's the case, you'll want to rely on something other than direct damage. Maybe just CC them hard enough you can actually fight them with a weapon. Maybe CC and hit them with negative energy. Maybe CC and then use your flashsword. Maybe CC them and have a teammate help. Maybe just CC them and push them off a balcony so they'll break their leg and not come back after you. Tanks are a caster's main weakness, but you do have options, and most of them start with crowd control spells like Slow and Sleepwalk.

As an aside, if you don't have a physical weapon you're good with, you need to attune a flashsword spell. It's the only spell chain that doesn't provoke an AoO and it can even be cast as an AoO as long as it's attuned. It's a single strike with a weapon forged from your element of choice, which forms as you're attacking and delivers split physical/elemental damage. It's hardly your most powerful option but it's an essential emergency spell, which is why ALL casters have access to some form of it.

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