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MoonHunter Sayeth 20171229


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Magic: Essence of Place
This one is not just a reskin, it changes the meat of the system. This one is fully impacts the world... while still possibly being plug and play.

Every Region or Place is magical in its own way. You can call it The Essence of the Place. It has an elemental/ fundemental component - Plains, Forrest, Mountain, Waterway, Rolling Hill, Gysers (Earth Water), and City (for the most cosmopolitan places) - the dominant archetypal terrain for that mystic region. (Most regional/state/border lines follow the ley barriers between two regions.) Each terrain has its own color or shade (Oak Forrest have a different shade of green than Pine Forest or Redwood Forest. Every Region has its own tints or "flavors". If the Plains in a region are homes to lions or elephants, that would be a tint. If the fields around Delean were the place of bloody battles, it would have the tint of soldier, knight, blood, and ghosts. Some can see this as a small change in color, but othertimes is seems like an edge or marbling effect. The high mountains of the Snakespine would have the tint of ice, serpant/ dragon, iron, and "hard" (an emotional quality of will power and stoic sturdiness found in the Spinemen and the Hallan that live on the Mountain).

To cast magic requires appropriate Essence. Every spell requires X number of pawn of essence of the right type. Essence with the appropriate tint can sometimes be substituted. Some very powerful spells have a tint requirements as well. (Summon army of the dead requires Soldier and Ghost taints).

So looking for an object in a given terrain might require that terrain essence. If you are looking for things in a cities (usually gathered at the gates or central plazas), you need those essence. If you are improving farm tool, you need either the plains or forrest essence. If you are working forge tools, you might need fire tint, metal tint, or a mountain/ local that metal comes from. Healing will require water (to wash away the illness/wound) and some other essence (magic, sunshine, etc) to improve it. The generic essence of bright sun or bright moon light can be used in addition of the required essence to improve the results.

Now we move into how the magic shapes the setting

Essence must be collected from its appropriate region. Long ago, it was collected in gems, boxes, wands, and a variety of things. If they were not glass or crystal, the essence would eventually dissapate. Glass spheres of good thickness the size a half finger (1" or 2cm) became "the standard" as it could enchanted with various lights to hold one pawn of essence. Essence Balls are small glass marbles used to collect and hold magical essences of primal elements or locations. When charged, they give off a small light in the color of the essence. If viewed carefully or with mystic skill, you can see/sense the tains. Casters could go at proper times and dates to collect essence and will it into the balls. Over the years, harvesting staves have been enchanted to let anyone, even without the caster's knack and training, collect essence.

Note: There are more magics to collect - straight magical fonts which are clear), you can also collect sunshine, moonshine, songs, sounds of a forge, whistling of winds, holidays, and so on, but they have limited use as you usually need regional power.

Magickers of all stripes use essences to make tools, potions, items, or services. Essence is needed to maike the spells or spell items. Essence is required to empower the items (if it is reusable).

Ideally this is set in a world between the later ages of Stone and earlier ages of Bronze. Cities are build. Empires rule. Glass/ Crystal is more advanced, but only because of magic use. There is not as much technology as one might hope. Thus magic will be used for many things... healing, finding lost things, improving tools, causing field growth, making buildings stronger, and so on. There are coins and that is fine. Since everyone needs magicker services from time to time, using the essence balls became common means of exchange. Since the enchanting of harvesting staves (allowing non-magickers to charge essence), they have come into more everday use, replacing the larger coins of the city states.

They are a commodity currency however. The values are not fixed. Certain essences are common in one place, but rarer in others. So the ocean side kingdoms have one ocean for four blank balls, but desert wind or aether might be one for thirty blank balls. While in the sandswept Ocren Wastes, Ocean might be worth fifty blank balls in civilized areas, but nearly nothing in the barbarian controlled areas.

Note: The spell of carrying makes the glass balls fairly tough. They will only break if you really work at it.

Many a wise caster or merchant will set up expeditions to collect special essences on good harvest days/times. (you can collect things on poorer harvest days, just with slower returns.) Thus a caster tend to be well travelled and wanderers (looking for odd places that might have nodes). They also tend to travel for trades for other essences not local to them. See, a reason for a caster who wants to be really rich or really powerful to go travelling.

Now even if this moves into iron ages and other historical-esk periods, essence balls will remain a trade item and currency. Nobles will have many a casters or enchanter in their employ (often as many as their men at arms or clerks), and use the magic of their financial power to improve their domains. Ditto for kings and such.

You could even go with firearms as magic items. One Earth related and one fire releated essence. I have a whole blog post on that.

The magic tends to use enchantments on items and tools and making of potions. Things that are one use are ready to go. Things that are multiuse will eventually needs essence "loaded into the item" or fresh essence balls used to empower an effect.

No matter what, most magickers do not have serious adventurer spells at the ready. They have the domestic ones, so they can be of use to their local clients. If they plum their grimoires and formularies, they might have a couple out there hiding.

There might be colleges that teach war magicks. Those casters would need wealthy patrons, as casting thirty Harvest Bonfires' worth of essence (enough for a few volleys of fireburst) might require some time and effort to collects.

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One of the first tasks a GM will need to do when implimenting this system is to look at their map and break it down into mystic regions. These will normally be the states/ counties inside kingdoms, or could just be kingdoms. If there is a major river, like the Nile or the Mississippi, it might be its own region. It is not just figuring out the archtypal local terrain type, but if there are areas with their own tint. To check that you need to see if there is anything cool or interesting with the wild life, local history, or local population. If a city is big and important, then it would be its own region. (Petordan would have the tints of Flags (group identity), Fabrics, Bridges, River/Water. Celdor by the River is City will have the tints of brick, river/water, duelists.

Knowing what essences are available, will tell you what the local magic users will be doing with magic and what essence might be really valuable (or come from far away).

Most GMs will be adapting this to the "native magic system", so they will need to assign essence types and costs to the existing spell effects. As spell effects go up in complexity or power, they will need more and more essence and essence of certain types/taints. The GM needs to compare what essence is available against their spell system to see what is available to a caster.

There will also be other spells that "seem to be logical to exist" given local and supralocal regions elemental and taints. It is up to the GM to put those together. If they don't players will start researching them and you will have to deal with new things that might disrupt the status quo.

Summoning things up would seem to be more common using this system than it is in most systems- a fantasmal thing that will work/ fight for you. You can only summon things up that fit the essence you are using... and often require a taint to match it. (Our Soldier and Knight in the example above or a Hard Drake using the Snakespine essence). You will need to feed it essence every round or so to keep it here.

You could toss out your "native system spell effect list" and make one of your own. It is more work, but will generate more satisfying results. Remember, that magic users here are much more practical than flashy artillery pieces. There may be spells for that, but most magic will be pretty practical.

Either way, one of the basic spells that all casters learn would be "create essence ball/ item". Enchanters/ Alchemists (the same thing really in this system) would have a process using their tools to do that same effect.

Note: Freeform spell casting with difficulties using skills would be possible as well. Base the skills on the desired "class of effects".

Gifts or Flaws dealing with which essences you can use well or poorly would be appropriate as well. (I come Atlantia... an island city embuded with the essence of water. Thus I have a problem with mountainous/ stone essence. (If I take the gift, I will get a bonus with water essence.)

Casting requires a few moments of concentration (with or without gestures, incantations, props, or special foci) and the woosh of essence through you into the "spell form" created by your concetration. Simple/ basic skills rolls might be a good idea, even if you are not using the freeform spells. (perhaps you will get bonuses for all that extra stuff, or maybe it requires a knack to get a bonus from it... or a flaw if it requires it.)

Your system might require levels/ experience that cap the number of essence you can use at a single time. That is not a bad idea. You could simulate it with having to take a caster's gift (like magery) a time or three or you skill level generating a cap.

Creating items or potions is a two part process. First is to make the item be able to hold the spell (the same enchantment of essence balls). This may be done multiple times if the potential effect requires several essence balls to cast. The second is to "cast the spell" into the item. This might take 5 (consumable one use things) to 25 (static reusable effects) times the time it would take to just "cast the spell". One shot items just require one use. Being able to store multiple uses increases the number of essence items enchantments it requires. You need five shots of power to set up a "rechargable, reusable item", where you can use essence balls to power the effect.

I like potion, lotions, pills, and such to put spells into you for consumed effects. Other things could be used, like a necklace or daisy chain around your wrist (one shots). It would be the basis of your local/ culture. (Also note that the item will have the "essence ball enchantment", so they will be tougher than they normally would be. Some places might put essence in a breakable item (break to release) or a box (open to cast). More permanent items will be used for reusuable effects.

Since magic items require essence to use and are easy to make, they are be quite common. Simple uses. Remember, just because you have a fireburst staff does not mean you will have the six Essence of the Bonfire or one volcanic essence with you.

Also remember that you are "spending to cast the spell" as they are fuelled by a money source. Thus harvesting your own essence will become a time consuming task that many magic users will do.

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Yes, if you want to use MtG as a template for spells and costs and such you can. MtG, Ars Magica, and RQ III/ RQ II were the inspirations for this system and hybridizes them all together.
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