A magical taxonomy (cont)

From: Sergio Mascarenhas (sermasalmeida@mail.telepac.pt)
Date: Wed 08 Oct 1997 - 11:47:31 EEST

Let?s continue with the discussion wheter in magic we need the POW stat or
if CON can be a substitute for it.

First, a general comment: what I've been, am, and will write is based both
on old musings about RQ - and other game systems - and present
brain-storming. In other words, it's work in progress.

Mike Lay:
<< Essentially I am against anything that concentrates over reliance on
one statistic. I think that the overlap of CON/SIZ/STR could usefully
be addressed, but I do not feel that there should be any overlap
between the physical and magical stats.>>

My basic point is that magic is part of the fabric of Glorantha. It is
natural to this universe. From where steems magic? IMO, from the forces of
life. There is one life, not two. POW and CON are two ways of dealing with

the same reality. They should be combined. In fact, the word I prefer is
not CONstitution or POWer but VITality (obviously from 'vita', 'life). IMO
this is the stat that shoud exist.

Vitality (CON/POW) manifests itself differently in the mundane (physical)
plane and the spirit and divine (magical) planes but it is the key that
connects the different planes. Mundane things have SIZ but don't have VIT.
Otherworld creatures don't have SIZ. Living creatures have SIZ and VIT,
that's why they are connected with the mundane and the magical planes. It
is also the reason why they are alive...

Hibbs Philip:
<<in RQ the POW spent on divine magic and
enchantments can be regained through 'magical' experience, switching to
CON or other stats is a big step. >>

Switching to a new Gloranthan game system will be a big step. The question
is: can we suggest to the game developers in which direction we would like
that step to lead? Can we have a saying in what this new game is going to

Hibbs Philip:
<< Maybe permanent fatigue points could be spent and regained somehow.
(...) The major drawback with this system is it resurrects the much-hated
Fatigue Points system, that so many referees either ignore or replace.>>
Mike Lay:
<< And as for fatigue, well, it was the first rule out of the window when
I started up my recent game. We prefer a "you do something absurd and
the GM penalises you" system.>>

I know, fatigue rules in RQ stink. That doesn't mean we don't need some
fatigue rules, it only means we need better - and playable - fatigue rules.

Mike Lay:
<< Nor do I see that an Orlanthi should cripple himself in order to cast
bladesharp 4 (4 points of damage ex 3-4 is a big chunk).>>

Neither do I. I proposed that you should have three levels of spells from
the least powerful to the most powerful and that learning and using a spell
are dealt with differently. Your bladesharp is within the medium range of
spells. To LEARN it you expand Hit Points. To USE it you expand fatigue
points (remember, I'm thinking about new and better rules for fatigue then
That was my original idea. But I changed it a little. See how:

Mike Lay:
<< So we would end up with powerful sorcerors that look like Arnold
Schwarzenegger (sp?). >>
<< Personally I *like* the concept that physically weak characters can be
magically powerful. >>
<< I like the fact that those who concentrate on the magical arts have
to rely on their warrior comrades and vice versa. >>

I agree with you on all the above points. How can we create game mechanics
that combine CON with POW in VIT and avoid those pitfalls? Just see how:
1. VIT (CON) + SIZ = Hit Points and VIT + STR = Damage Modifier. That's RQ
and I would keep it in the Glorantha game. This is the impact of VIT on the
physical plane. My take is that something similar would happen in the
spiritual plane:
2. VIT + INT = Magic Points. VIT* + INT = Magical Modifier. VIT +
PERception = magical perception

Magic Points
The principle is the same found in RQ.

Magical modifier
The magical modifier defines the power of the magic you can use. The
magical modifier is only important to sorcery and to spirit magic (in my
terms, to 'personnal' magic). If this modifier is negative or zero, magic
that requires it can only be done at the most basic level which means you
cannot 'modify' the basic spell. P.e. to manipulate a sorcery spell
(increase its duration, range, intensity, etc.) you must have a positive
magical modifier. (This modifier is similar to damage modifier in the sense
that low values in the stats resul in negative modifiers and high values in
the stats result in positive modifiers).
It is based on VIT* and INT. The key is VIT*:
- - VIT*: most living creatures have a 'bias' to the mundane plane. They are
unaware of the magical planes and are unable to interact with them. This is
so because their vital forces, their VIT, is 'commited' to the mundade. To
be able to interact with the other planes these forces must be 'commited'
to magic. How is this done? Sorcery and Shamanism do it in different ways:

VIT* in sorcery:
Sorcerors LEARN how to uncommit their VIT from the mundane plane ando how
 to commit it to magic. This is part of their trade. They do it
incrementaly. VIT commited to magic is sorcerys VIT*. The more VIT* you
have, the higher your magical modifier. Notice that if someone has INT high
enough he can have a positive magical modifier and start doing magic even
without study. Some examples:
1. Ged has an INT of 18 and a VIT of 13. He is 8 years hold. He has a
magical modifier of +1, he has magical perception (see below) and he has 16
Magic Points. He his a <<natural>> sorceror, someone that can manipulate
magical forces (magic points) naturaly. He learned some wichcraft by
observing his village's wich and when his village whas attacked, he used
those skills. Sorcerors always try to spot special children like Ged and
make them their aprentices.
2. Now Ged is 15 years old. Is STR is 10 and is SIZ is 11. He doesn't have
a damage modifier, his hit points are 12 (I'm calculating from memory). He
goes to the sorcery school.
3. Ged spent the last 6 years in the sorcery school. He his 21. By study,
he commited 6 VIT points to magic. So his mundane VIT is 7 and his VIT* is
6. He calculates his Hit Points based on 7 VIT and 11 SIZ. He calculates
his Magical modifier based on 6 VIT* and 18 INT.
Conclusion: the more a sorceror commits is life forces to magic, the less
he is able to use them in physical activities. Is physic changes
accordingly. He doesn't 'look like Arnold Schwarzenegger'. The more
'magically powerful' he his, the more 'physically weak' he gets.

VIT* in shamanism:
To get VIT* a shaman summons his fetch. His fetch his his VIT*. Most of the
time his VIT* will be resident in the spirit plane.

Magical perception
In RQ PER is just mundane PER. Perception of magical forces only occurs in
some special occasions like with special spells. IMO, since Glorantha is an
universe where magic is pervasive there should be some more complex
mechanics here. My proposal is that in order to be able to perceive magical
energies (which allows you to manipulate them) or to see magical creatures
(which allows you to actively interact with them) you must have Magical
Perception. You have magical perception if you have a positive magical
modifier. Your magical perception is equal to (VIT + PER)/2. Notice that
this is different from a shaman perception of the spirit plane: this
perception is possible thanks to the fetch.

General conclusions: sorcerors have the three basic attributes needed to do
magic: magic points, a positive magical modifier and magical perception.
But their attributes are still 'routed' and bound to the mundane plane.
That's why their magic is directed to spells and enchantments and the
manipulation of magic energies. Shamans also have those three attributes.
But they are 'bound' to the spirit plane, that's why they excel at
interacting with spirits. Other people do have magic points but they don't
have the other two attributes. So they can be taught to do magic but they
do it like a monkey mimicrying a man. They imitate what they can't
understand. Their spells work but they don't know how or why so their
powers are very limited. That happens with some special powers too. Storm
Bull's sense chaos is a special magical perception skill. When the storm
bull cultist sacrifices VIT to the god (remember that in my magical system
he doesn't loose VIT points; see GD v5#173) this VIT becomes VIT* for the
effect of acquiring the magical perception of chaos.


Sergio Mascarenhas


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 13 Jun 2003 - 21:18:48 EEST