A Magic Taxonomy

From: Beyke, Maurice A (mabeyke@ingr.com)
Date: Tue 07 Oct 1997 - 18:01:41 EEST

I went back through some the old RQ rules digests last
night, and found an old posting from Bruce Lionel Mason
that fits in well with what I would like magic to do
(and may have even been the inspiration for what I have).
He suggested that each tradition of magic has three
divisions, low magic, high magic, and ritual. (If anyone
wants the details of his post, it's in vol 1 n236 of the
RQ Rules Digest, which I believe is archived on Loren's
webpage). He went on to suggest that low magic for all
cultures is essentially the same, mechanics wise, and (in
the rules) should use the same spell lists, differing
mainly in how the casting chance was figured. Note that
this is already mostly true, at least for the theistic and
shamanic magic traditions; for low magic, they both use
Spirit Magic (casting chance is the same for each however),
and low magic has never been clearly defined in any official
sense for western tradition. I personally think that there
should be more differences, (in "color", anyway) but like
this basic structure, at least as a basis to build on.

BTW, I am not all that enamored with my title of Native
magic, it's just that I really think that the term Spirit
Magic brings with it artifacts that I don't much care for.
Such as needing some kind of spirit master (either a shaman
or a priest) to teach spells. What about the family magics
my father teaches me, or the mason's magic I learned the
summer I got a job in town with my uncle the builder?
Ordinary people should be able to pass on ordinary magic.

One of the main reasons I don't like Spirit magic as is
that it's unclear what it's supposed to be. You can't
study it or train in it, so it's not like traditional magic
spells, or any other skills. Each point of it takes up a
point of INT, but that's the only role your intelligence
plays in it. I say, stop treating it like spells; these
are knacks, minor powers that have been picked up. And as
such, there should be more different ways (in addition to the
way given in the RQ Magic book, not instead of) of acquiring
them. Now, why these would be limited by INT, I don't have a
clue, but they need to be limited by something, for game
balance if nothing else. Maybe it should be APP; make it
useful for something (justification: if all spells are
learned by fighting spirits, then you actually get covertly
possessed by the spell spirit, who gives you the ability to
cast the spell. The more APPealing you are, the more spell
spirits are willing to take up residence in your skull).
Maybe it's a matter of mental coordination, and INT is how
many points of abilities you are able to keep strait without
tripping over your mental feet.

In reply to Sergio Mascarenhas, I don't much care for
getting rid of POW. I like having a stat showing strength
of soul, and think it should be the basis of magic. Now if
you prefer the term Willpower, or something along those
lines, I don't mind, but getting rid of it and basing magic
on physical abilities I think is inaccurate and will have
unfortunate side effects. I like your idea of basing (at
least some) magic on Personality; the magic described in the
PenDragon supplement "Beyond the Wall" does this kind of

Anyway, that's all I have time for now. Thanks to all who
sent in stuff about my questions. I have Enclosure on order,
I should be receiving it this week (maybe today).
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