Sorcery - Changes

From: Peter van Heusden (
Date: Mon 31 May 1993 - 21:20:07 EEST

Paul scrivens:
> RQ Sorcery - Paul Reilly
> I think most of us agree that there are severe problems with the RQ III
> Sorcery system. I would like people's opinions on what a new Sorcery
> System for RQ IV should be like. Of course, if you like the system as
> it stands you should also speak up in its defense. In my opinion, a
> major rewrite would be desirable. However, I don't know whether any really
> major changes can be promulgated at this point. (Due to requiring
> compatibility with already published material, etc.) then we should look
> at incremental fixes. More on some possible such fixes in another article.
> What do we want from a Sorcery System?

Sorcery must be, in a way, "how" magic works. The Sorceror thinks he is manipulating the world on a basic level. Thus, we need a system which to a certain extent is mechanical, and predictable, and neccessarily relies a lot upon the abilities of the sorceror, rather than the conditions of the world.

My concept of Sorcery is heavily influenced by 2 things. 1) Tolkien. 2) Ars Magica

  1. Tolkien has a creation myth of a "song of the world". This amounts to the world having a base harmonic, and the lives and acts of men playing side tunes upon this. Ie. there is a base "reality" which can be bent, or twisted, depending upon the will of the sorceror. This also means that it is easier to bend in a way which just amplifies the current "tune". Ie. making water is closer near rivers, etc. This would be basically changing reality. The sorceror trips up his foe by making a root appear before his foot. Of course, it is quite consistent that that root could have been there already. This means, sure, create fire: ie. make a ball of fire appear. However, the harmony kicks in. That fire isn't really there, and unless the sorceror puts in effort to "keep bending", it won't be there for long.
  2. Ars Magica has 2 basic types of spell - spontaneous, and formulaic. This all will be discussed below, however.

> Problems with RQ III Sorcery
> How do Gloranthan sorcerors act? In the supplements we see an order of
> Wizards who serve religious roles, who study Lores, and who maintain
> intricate spells carefully crafted by them. And their are a few extremely
> powerful sorcerors. There seems to be a limited amount of magic that can
> be done in one area - in the cult system this is modelled by temples.
> Sorcerors love Runes, according to some of the published material.
> We are told of Death Rune magic, Fire magi, etc.
> But there is no real system to encourage people to act in accordance with
> these Runes. A sorceror with Treat Wounds is just as likely to have
> Animate Fire as he is to have Regenerate.

Solution: Runic Sorcery. 2 points: 1) Runes appear both in G and in Earth. Symbols appear everywhere, be they names, runes, elements, etc. So, you have skills in various runes, and can combine them. 2) BIG problem. We don't want this to only work in Glorantha. So, do we create a dual system, or drop the runic idea, or give a sorcery construction kit, whereby you can adapt sorcery to your world.

(BTW. Horror story on RQ and Glorantha: I'm recruiting players for a non-G RQ game. I said to someone: "Why not play RuneQuest?"... and got the response: "Huh? I thought you could only play that in Glorantha." This person had dropped the system because of the world. (He only saw 2nd Edition). This MUST NOT HAPPEN.) Ok. What should we have:

Ars Magica (AM) has 2 types of spell, as I have said. A spontaneous spell is a off the cuff combination of forms (read Runes) and techniques (things like create, destroy, change). A mage would often light a candle like this: quick create Fire on the candle. Basically, I was thinking of skills for each form, and each technique, and averaging them or something. This has been done, posted, responded to, etc, before.

Then, you have formulaic spells - the ones in books. Basically, you crit on a spell, you can write it down, and get a new spell, which you can then cast again and improve seperately. Its a lot less dangerous that spontaneous magic.

So: these two basic things, with runes added in. Essentially, a whole new type of magic.

Peter van Heusden One man one newsfeed CS3, UCT, Cape Town, RSA "How fast are you? How dense?"                              - Rudy Rucker

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