Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Magic-User Traditions part ii

The furnace is kind of working again, so I can feel the keyboard at my fingers. That means I can wrap up a few thoughts that I left off yesterday. Both the Wizardry and Sorcery traditions have got full spell-lists up through level 6 (where 0e & Whitebox cut off). I've also got similar treatment for Necromancers. All of these spell lists are populated appropriately so that random spells can be selected with a die-roll. I'm just that way.

I'm hoping to eventually provide similar frameworks for other traditions such as Witchery, Druidry, Warlockry, and so forth. This idea of many traditions owes at least in part to the Ethshar novels of Lawrence Watt-Evans, which I would rank alongside Leiber's Lankhmar novels as the D&D-est stories around. It's my feeling that these differences would be completely invisible to anyone who is not a practicing spellcaster or the well-informed teammate of one, and the terminology is often used interchangeably, even by those in the know, so there's no sure way to know what to expect from any given arcanist.

It's my intention that the classic Magic-User list should be the default for PCs, and admittance to any other tradition should be limited. For example, perhaps only a Magic-User with high Wisdom could begin play as a Wizard - having attracted the attention of a Wizard when he was ready for apprenticeship. A PC with average intelligence may be able to join the brotherhood if he can convince an existing Wizard that he'd be a good candidate, and must swear never again to dabble in forbidden magicks (i.e., never using any spells that aren't part of the Wizardry tradition).

I haven't clearly decided what approach to take with Sorcery in such a case. That's at least partly because, following James Maliszewski's example, I've been mostly confining my tinkering to what's actually getting used in play, and the only magic-user right now is a Wizard. (If I'd really been ahead of the curve though, I probably would have dangled wizardry as something to aspire to, 'cos I like to make players earn what they get. Still, it's working out so far, and to the experienced players it seems to set the campaign apart from what they've seen in the past.) Current thinking is: a particularly gifted student may be be granted (or wrest from his mentor) the secret spells of sorcery. Any other magic-user must discover them just as he must discover all spells of level 2 and beyond. 

Yeah, it doesn't have as much pizzazz as the Wizardry thing. I think it comes down to: why does a sorcerer want to train an apprentice, thus creating another competitor? Brainstorming time: I think it's partly a matter of pride, as a sorcerer who has trained many apprentices will win renown through their deeds, and if he's as good as he thinks he is, he'll always stay a step ahead of them. A sorcerer can be expected to have a bit of loyalty to his mentor and vice-versa - they might compete, but they'll protect each other when it comes down to it; their competition won't be deadly combat, just matching skill. A sorcerer who betrays his master is maybe a pariah, and won't be protected by truces - or at least he'll be hunted down by his master's other apprentices, if for no reason other than to let all the other sorcerers of the realm know that they're tougher than the guy who killed the guy who trained them, and therefore not to be messed with. 

I've never liked the idea of mages gathered in actual schools, Harry Potter style, although that was kind of the assumption of 2nd edition, as I recall; but i do like the Kung Fu Movie idea of founding a school to increase one's renown. I think that either A) the term 'school' is a very loose one, as in philosophical circles, indicating that one's lineage of apprenticeship comes from a particularly famous archmage (sort of a tradition-within-a-traditon), or B) any such school would be a small affair, with one sorcerer giving his personal attention to a handful of pupils, somewhat in the style of the old Irish 'hedge schools.' 

Obviously, my thoughts remain unfinished here. More thought will be given to this. Feedback and suggestions are of course welcome.

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