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Alien Tech Magic

For example, the humans of Porta Nile have created a form of magic that uses pieces of alien technology they find.

Their magic is very good at transmitting information, divining information, weather manipulation, communication, psionics, and force fields.

It is not so good at healing, protection from fire/acid/cold, large damage spells, and necromancy.

The system allows me to easily take the spells and adjust their spell level up or down based on the strengths and weaknesses of the magic system. A Detect Thoughts spell would be a first level spell for the humans of Porta Nile, a second level spell for many others, but a third level spell for the Salt Mages of Galeon.

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  1. K Yani

    I really like this approach. But can a mage to use two traditions and cherry-pick best spells and if yes, what drawback there us to balance this approach?

  2. John Payne

    K Yani A mage can learn from another tradition, but only in a onesy-twosy fashion. Rogues are the only class that can translate amongst the various types of magic, so a mage would need one to put the spell into her spellbook.

    In other words, a Salt Mage could add a Detect Thoughts spell as a first level spell, but only with a Rogues help.

    Rogues, btw, can only cast spells from scrolls. Scrolls take one minute to read and cast a spell, so their utility is better as a scribe than a mage.

  3. Jesse Cox

    Oh yeah. Now, several thoughts —

    Now is this riding as a modifier on a large spell list, like “these specific spells are (one level lower/higher) than normal for this mage type” or is there a more general spell system underlying it?

    In some systems/worlds access to particular spells is key to certain tactics or adventures — Flight, for example, can be a real game changer, as can transmute rock to mud. Some systems have some interesting breakpoints — in 5e for example, spells up to level 5 are a very different beast than spells of levels 6-9. That’s a thing to watch for.

    Can this reduce spell levels to zero/cantrips? I have this notion that some 1st level spell is easy in a particular paradigm, so nearly all adventurers from there take one level of Wizard to get it as a cantrip, and every dungeon in the Land assumes that of course you’ve got people to can (cast this thing) more or less at will.

  4. K Yani

    John Payne What is the reason behind only Rogues having this kind of talent and not people specifically trained in magic arts, as the talent doesn’t look connected to rogueing activities? I assume this is because of Read Languages ability, but what is in-world reason?

  5. John Payne

    K Yani The in-world reason is that cultures are largely isolated. Adventuring is a relatively new activity after the end to a great war. Trading between regions has been renewed in the adventurers’ parents’ lifetime.

    Rogues tend to be the only folks that have found value in attempting to bridge the types of magic for fun and profit.

    Fighters solve problems with weapons and armor. Clerics solve problems by the will of their Pantheon of deities. Mages learn magic in the first place as an attempt to defend people from extraordinary threats without having to join the priesthood to do it.

  6. John Payne

    Jesse Cox I want to reply in more detail, but I am in the middle of something.

    Basically, the spell building system uses points to determine the relative power of the spell. Different magic traditions provide bonus points to specific categories of spells, but also have set limits overall.

    For example, the Humans of Porta Nile (HPN) would have bonus points for communication style spells. This will generally (but not always) make their communication spells one level lower.

    Overall, the HPN magic system starts with a base of zero points and a limit of 20 points for any spell. The idea is that any spells in this system makes the 21st point onward more expensive. This has the effect of dramatically raising the spell level of all spells, making some effects impossible for them.

    Compare this to the Salt Mages of Galeron (SMG) that begin with a base of two points, but have a limit of 16 points. This makes their spells have a lower level overall. but generally weaker in effect as the 17th point onward gets very expensive.

    When I can, I’ll provide examples. It is not as tricky as it sounds, but I’m trying to do three things right now.

  7. K Yani

    John Payne So, technically the only thing that prevents such cherry-picking are cultural barriers, and this is a skill a mage can learn in hypothetical future where nations are more globalized? I understand this is not a point if current world situation, I am just wondering.

  8. John Payne

    K Yani The very short answer, this world is the precursor to the standardized magic systems in D&D. In the future, all the forms of regional magic will merge into Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Wizard schools of magic.

    Warlock and Sorcerer magic (based on bloodline) hasn’t come into this world yet.

  9. K Yani

    John Payne Understood, thank you.

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