A Preliminary Magical Taxonomy (long)

From: Beyke, Maurice A (mabeyke@ingr.com)
Date: Thu 02 Oct 1997 - 18:17:03 EEST

> I have long been vaguely dissatisfied by the magical classifications
> in the RuneQuest rules. That there are different types of magic that
> are learned and used in different ways is one of the best aspects
> (IMO) of RQ, but the more that I learn about Gloranthan "reality" the
> less the current division seems to be in accord with it. With that in
> mind, and given the fact that RQ and Glorantha are not joined at the
> hip anymore, (and that hopefully there will soon be a more
> "Glorantha-true" rules set written) I have decided to try to at least
> start on a Gloranthan Magical Taxonomy. Note: this is very much a
> document in progress. Please excuse typos and such, but please
> comment.
> First, I want to look at the main types of magic, what I like about
> each, and how I think each should work in Gloranthan reality. Once
> this
> is done, then working out rules should be straightforward (famous last
> words, probably, but still ...). Unusual types of magic, such as
> Jelmre
> magic, or obscure magic (in that *I* don't know much about it) such as
> East Isles Color Magic, Kralorelan Mysticism, and whatever they use in
> Vormain, I will leave to other, more learned, heads.
> Native Magic
> First, I looked at what RQ3 called "Spirit Magic"; what was called
> "Battle Magic" in RQ2. I dislike both of these terms, the first
> because
> I believe it misleading, and the second is too limiting. This

> "branch"
> of magic, I think, needs serious examination.
> My first question about this is, just *what* are the Battle Magic
> rules
> trying to represent? It's not spells or charms that are learned by
> study
> or training; that's sorcery. The closest thing to it in literature
> are
> some minor divine (or diabolic) powers gotten through boons or pacts.
> Since this is also the basis for most divine magic, and "Spirit Magic"
> is
> frequently (if not usually) obtained in a similar manner to divine
> magic,
> this seems a usable model.
> This leads to the next question: is this model descriptive enough?
> Well,
> folks have been gifted with minor powers by many types of spirits in
> folktales, fairy tales, and myths. Beings ranging from the lowliest
> field
> sprite to the greatest of gods have given mortals gifts, tricks,
> charms and
> powers from time to time. I think what RQ3 calls spirit magic is a
> great
> example for just this type of thing, and I like the feeling that this
> gives,
> rather than treating them as a type of "spell".
> So, now that I have a tentative model of "Spirit Magic", let's
> characterize
> it, and see how it differs from Divine Magic, Sorcery, and Ceremonial
> magic.
> o It is not learned in a trainable manner (such as Sorcery spells or
> ritual magic). In fact, very similar magical effects may be
> learned
> from a number of sources, some of which I will give below. Once
> learned,
> however, the power functions at the caster's natural magical power
> (their POW, in RQ terms, or Will Power, if running under another
> system).
> o It is not as powerful in effect, or as limited in use, as the
> invocations of Divine magic. The power for this magic comes from
> the caster, not from a divine source, and one does not have to
> reconnect to the source to recover the ability to cast; the
> ability
> is native to the caster (even though the ability may originally
> not
> have been).
> Given this, I suggest that this magic be called "Native Magic". Once
> gained
> (not learned), the ability is native, and need not be petitioned for
> again
> or trained in ability. Practice may make one better at this, but this
> is
> true of any native ability, from running to chugging beers.
> Native magic, as stated above, may be acquired in a number of ways.
> Some of
> these ways are: as a gift from a divine or demi-divine source (as by
> casting
> the Spellteaching divine spell, or making deals with spirits), power
> stolen
> from another owner (on a heroquest or a shaman's spirit travel), or
> even
> enchanting the power into one's (or another's) self (no current
> mechanic, but
> I would like to see it for things like special clan magics, secret
> society
> spells, or perhaps even common magic in areas where Sorcery is

> common). All
> of these end up with the recipient having the spell as a more or less
> native
> ability, that they can use as long as they have the magical strength.
> Most of the spells on the current Spirit magic spell list would be
> placed
> under Native Magic. I would not want to include any of the ritual
> magic
> spells in this group, as I see those as being of a different nature.
> These
> abilities are learned, and so in some ways are like Sorcery, though I
> do not
> think a seperate skill for each spell is needed. But Ritual magic
> falls
> into it's own category, discussed below.
> Sorcery
> Sorcery is that type of magic which involves learning and erudition.
> In
> this, the spellcaster manipulates magic using skills learned
> individually.
> Each spell (or at least each class of spells) is a separate skill, and
> the
> Sorceror may have different level of ability with each spell known.
> Sorcery is characterized as follows:
> o It is learned in a trainable manner, and the individual spells may
> be learned from books, teachers, or may be researched from current
> knowledge.
> o The aspects of the spells are variable in regards to power,
> duration, range, power required to cast, time required to cast,
> and
> number of instances cast at once, and perhaps other variables as
> well.
> o The spells are powered by the casters own life force or willpower,
> but usually require no permanent sacrifice of life force to cast
> (but perhaps such sacrifice may be used to enhance spells in some
> ways).
> This I think is reflected in the rules, even if the rules don't work
> very well. I don't have a major problem with the basics of sorcery.
> Divine Magic
> This is the type of magic that involves petitioning divine entities
> for
> power, and is distinguished from native magic that is gained from
> deities
> in that once cast, the spell must be petitioned for again. In many
> cases, the procedure for petitioning for the power, or spell, may be a
> straitforward ritual, especially in the case of recovering a spell
> once
> cast. But, in all cases, it is ultimately out of the caster's control
> whether they can recover the ability to cast the spell once used.
> Divine magic involves connecting with a higher being, which grants
> some
> of the power they control to the petitioner. This connection requires
> the sacrifice by the petitioner of part of their life force, soul, or
> will power, at least for the original ability to cast, and possibly
> for each casting of the spell. Perhaps for this sacrifice the caster
> gains access to a variety of powers offered by the deity, or perhaps
> each power must be sacrificed for individually (i.e. Runepower vs.
> traditional divine magic rules).
> Divine magic can be characterized as follows:
> o It is power that is gained by appeal to a higher being, wherein
> the
> power is still to some extent controlled by the being that granted
> it.
> o It requires the permanent sacrifice of some of the life force of
> the
> person learning the spell.
> o It tends to be more powerful than other forms of magic.
> Divine magic as written in the rules seems to reflect this well. The
> only questions are fairly minor; who can and how often does one
> recover
> rune magic, and how flexible is the access?
> Ritual Magic
> Ritual magic is the section that I am most unhappy with in the
> current rules. I don't like the spirit magic summoning and enchanting
> rules at all, and think a more flexible scheme should be used. But
> allowing anyone with the Enchantment skill to try to make any type of
> enchantment seems to go too far the other way. This is also,
> unfortunately, the one I have the least clue about how to fix. I am
> most eager to hear any suggestions people have about fixes for this.
> I would like Ritual magic to be a much more flexible, but much more
> time
> consuming, form of magic than any of the other types listed. I would
> suggest that, in Gloranthan reality, all the other forms of magic had
> their origins in ritual magic, and those rituals which worked well
> were
> refined in different ways by different cultures to produce the types
> of
> magic currently seen. However, ritual magic is still used, because it
> is (potentially) much more flexible.
> I would like to see ritual magic have the following qualities:
> o Enable someone to research and/or experiment to learn to do a
> ritual, enchantment, or summoning. Currently, only sorcerers
> can
> do this. I like the idea of the Lhankor Mhy sage poring through
> dusty tomes trying to find out how to cast some spell.
> o Allow the creation of "temporary enchantments", such as single
> shot magic items, without costing POW. Say allowing one to
> enchant MPs to store a spell for later use. I just don't see
> any

> PCs sacking POW for this kind of thing.
> o Allow multiple casters to pool their efforts to increase their
> power. Currently, the only way to do this is via the divine
> spell
> Mindlink, but I would like magi to ritually work together to,
> say,
> increase their chance to overcome a target, or boost the

> effectiveness of a spell. Some way to recreate what the Lunar
> magi did to stop the Cradle in the Cradle Adventure.
> This said, lets look at how I think ritual magic should interact with
> the three main magical traditions.
> Theism
> I do actually like how most rituals are handled in divine magic, as
> far
> as they go. The divine enchantment rules are okay, cause I think the
> gods will give their people the ability to make useful things. The
> summoning and command rules are similar; gods grant their followers
> the
> command over their minions. I would still like to have a way to
> research at least minor enchantments. The old storm voice shouldn't
> need a different divine spell for each type of rune-log he carves. At
> the very least, Lhankor Mhytes should be able to research and/or teach
> methods of enchantment. Ceremonies, I think, are not handled well. I
> don't want a different divine spell for marriages, funerals, harvest
> festivals, naming ceremonies, coming of age rituals, et cetera, ad
> nauseum. Not to mention, how do you perform a heroquest for the first
> time if you have to have a divine spell to perform the heroquest?
> Wizardry
> The sorcery enchantment rules are fine, since one can research sorcery
> spells. (Am I sounding redundant here?)
> Shamanism
> The way spirit magic enchantment rules I don't much care for; I would
> like a shaman to be able to make an assortment of magical items
> without
> having to beat up a spirit to learn how to do each one. I feel

> similarly
> about the summoning rules; *requiring* a shaman to chase down or
> summon
> a spirit to learn how to summon a different spirit just *feels*
> *wrong*!
> Experimenting, or talking to another shaman, or communing with a
> godlet
> (which would use the divine magic rules) should all be workable
> approaches.
> Additional Types of Magic
> Shamanism
> The types of things that shamans can do I think fall into another
> group
> of magic. I believe that shamans can provide Native magic ability to
> people (as I believe priests and am willing to argue that wizards can;
> although done in different manners, I believe the results would be
> similar enough to use the same mechanic, and would be viewed very
> similarly by gloranthans). Shamans are adept at using spirits to
> perform magic, and I believe they can generate many spell effects by
> use
> of spirits (i.e. order a Beer spirit to "Befuddle" someone, or a Wasp
> spirit to "Disrupt" someone). I think this should be delved into much
> more.
> Animism
> In the RQ4 discussion was a suggestion for ways to change spirit
> magic,
> and one of those was this. This form of magic involves communing with
> the spirits that inhabit the things of the world around us. This
> could
> be presented as one variant of shamanism, but I do not believe it
> falls
> under Native magic, as the caster does not directly cause the effects.
> Maybe this will pick up the traffic.
> ----
> Boris


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