Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

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Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:19 am

Something that has been on my mind in recent months has to do with the magical systems of Mystara and how they work and interact.

From the core BECMI rules, things are pretty straightforward. There is, to co-opt terms from other versions of D&D, Arcane and Divine magic. Magic-users and elves cast Arcane magic, and use spellbooks, and can learn spells from scrolls and other spellbooks. Clerics and druids cast Divine magic, which is gifted to them via some external means- be it nature, Immortals, or just plain faith in an ideology. Easy enough.

Things get complicated, IMO, with Gaz5 and the introduction of the expanded elf-wizard progression. Notably, because there is an entirely different spell list for elves in Gaz5. Elves there are still referred to as wizards, implying that they follow the Arcane system, with its spellbooks and the like. There are some spells on the list that are noted specifically for Treekeepers (implied to be the elvish version of clerics or druids), but the spell list is quite unlike the magic-user spell list in that it contains many clerical and druidic spells. Therein lay the problem.

If they are still considered Arcane casters, then in theory, they are committing these Divine spells to writing, which means that other Arcane spellcasters (ie, magic-users) can learn them, too. Now suddenly the barrier between the two types of magic kind of breaks down, at least it does from my point of view.**

Some of the other options introduced via the Mystara supplements similarly complicate things (Merchant-Princes from Gaz9, elf-druids and elf-clerics from Voyage of the Princess Ark, Foresters from Dawn of the Emperors, and probably some I'm forgetting offhand).

My solution to this is to decide that Mystaran elves can opt to be either Arcane or Divine casters from level one. In the former case, they will use the standard magic-user spell list and conduct their spellcasting accordingly; in the latter, they use the Gaz5 spell-list (the Path of the Treekeeper from G5 extended to cover the entirety of the list).

Still working through some ideas for some of the other discrepancies, but I'm curious as to other people's thought on this. Should Elf magic be considered its own thing, separate from Arcane and Divine magic? Am I making mountains out of molehills? :lol:

**As a side note, there certainly has always been a certain degree of overlap in the Arcane and Divine spell lists throughout most editions of the game, which is also odd, but not quite as problematic IMO as the overhaul of the spell-list from G5).
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby RobJN » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:58 am

I'd simply rule that human magic users might be able to make some sense of the spells from the expanded Gaz5 spell lists -- maybe even tell what they do -- but would not be able to cast them. It's elven magic, made available to the elves by Ilsundal through his Treekeepers.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:07 am

RobJN wrote:I'd simply rule that human magic users might be able to make some sense of the spells from the expanded Gaz5 spell lists -- maybe even tell what they do -- but would not be able to cast them. It's elven magic, made available to the elves by Ilsundal through his Treekeepers.


Any thoughts on the two conflicting spell lists for elves? The Gaz5 one and the BECMI/Cyclopedia magic-user list? Would you consider it just a matter of where they learn their magic (human schools or among elves), and would you allow them to mix and match spells from both lists?
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby RobJN » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:59 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
RobJN wrote:I'd simply rule that human magic users might be able to make some sense of the spells from the expanded Gaz5 spell lists -- maybe even tell what they do -- but would not be able to cast them. It's elven magic, made available to the elves by Ilsundal through his Treekeepers.


Any thoughts on the two conflicting spell lists for elves? The Gaz5 one and the BECMI/Cyclopedia magic-user list? Would you consider it just a matter of where they learn their magic (human schools or among elves), and would you allow them to mix and match spells from both lists?

As Gaz 5 states, elves only get this expanded spell list if they learn their magic in a primarily elf-centric setting-- Alfheim, Wendar, Sylvan Realm, or the Shiye territories of Alphatia, I'd say.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 7:34 am

RobJN wrote:As Gaz 5 states, elves only get this expanded spell list if they learn their magic in a primarily elf-centric setting-- Alfheim, Wendar, Sylvan Realm, or the Shiye territories of Alphatia, I'd say.


How would you rule things for a wandering elf, though, say one who begins training in Alfheim but later relocates to Glantri, or Karameikos? Would they still only be able to use the Gaz5 list for their new spell levels learned, or would they switch to the magic-user list?
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Robin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:40 am

I personally see it like this
At first there were 5 forms of magic
Elemental (drawn from the Elemental Planes)
Nature (Drawn from Nature itself) elves
Geo (Drawn from the Planet itself) witches, Dwarven artifact magic
Life (drawn from life itself) (carnivex were strong in this, they developed spells like Life Drain(age), Or Draining(life energy=levels), Weakness(constitution drain) and used this power as spell source..the new Warcraft movie reveals Orcs as using Life energy from many living entities..turning it evil and opening a portal, but they also used the energy of a drained deer to revive a baby))
Divine (drawn from the Immortals)
No-one can draw from more than one source and thus are restricted to the type they use

Then came the USS Beagle, crashing on Mystara, bringing their radiance based easy access technomagic.
This radiance and the easy how to use it also affected existing forms of magic
Elemental became heavily influenced and then forgotten
Nature became heavily influenced and almost forgotten, elves use this tradition in their treekeeper magic, but also use radiance influenced magic (and as being magical race thus become influenced themselves). this also directly explains that even when written down, a mage using another system cant use these spells as it derives from a completely different source
Geo , greatly forgotten, but festering continuously, popping up often by obstinant, agitators, and primitive races
Life totally forgotten, but some rediscovered by the Nithians, went over the top in using this and punished by the immortals(who were unaware which source of magic was used)
Divine greatly influenced, no spell unaffected, no race using this unaffected
one note; Pyramid magic of the Nithians is actual proven pure geo magic and was based on mixing dwarven knowledge with nithian knowledge. It is totally unaffected by the radiance

This development continues to this day
Elves have special treekeepers using Nature magic (Many spells Radiance influenced)
Witches and some primitive cultures use mostly geo magic (often this is corrupted/influenced by Radiance magic.witches are aware of this pollution and try to eradicate it, but are unaware of its actual source/history)
Some necromancers unknowingly use Life magic (radiance influenced or not)
Recent Elementalists in Glantri begin using Elemental magic but this is still dominated by Radiance influences. Frost mages have appeared in the northern part of Brun, using Frost magic which is NOT radiance influenced
Divine magic is influenced as before
and near to any magical race has radiance influenced magic within itself
Some of the users of original magic learn their item/magic functions in the Day of Dread...(since these days are more recent in the timeline, they never noticed this before)
As Radiance is all over, anybody using radiance influenced magic is able to use spells of other types . But magic which is still(mostly) pure they cannot.

When the radiance explodes finally and blasts a wave of Antimagic over the planet, all magic is temporarily dispelled or supressed.
Divine magic will be gone until the immortals remove the radiance from their influence (especially OLd Immortals from before the beagle came, can easily revert to this, which would greatly alter the Immortal balance, and maybe even excite Ragnarok..the immortal war where most Immortals will be wiped out except some major forces, or some lucky/clever ones (read the Edda, very interesting)
Magical creatures will get sick until newborn ones use no more Radiance (as it is not there), but generate their own magical life energy...they will however often see their parents perish or leave to another Plane...some adults will be sich but recover (especially Dragons and Beholders are suggested) though even here the deathtoll will be high.
Witches are already using many non radiance influenced magic and though they will lose many spells which are influenced, they have enough base to recreate those spels lost. This will become the earliest and most wide spread mage.
Elementalists (especially frost mages) discover strands of elemental magic (the elemental gates will remain unaffected and in existence all over, behaving on their own merit. They congregate near these gates using their powers and slowly learns to increase the use of elemental magic beyond the direct contact of the gates and derive on the existing elements.
Hakomon and Necromancers will soo rediscover their source of magic is life or Limbo and though most have perished, and most spells are lost, eventually they too will regain their personal power.Drow/Dark Elves and Azcan, both of Atzanteotl will also start using this magic. Other Entropic Immortals will stear to that use too.
Dwarves, Gnomes, will rediscover Pure Geo magic, Shadow Elves are eventually learning that their Chamber of Stars (based on planet found crystals) IS geomagic but with strong Radiance influenced.They have to learn that most of their spells have to relearned.
Radiance users will be the great loser, as they lose ALL magic, and must relearn magic of a single chosen type.

All in all...magic will exist...variable, powerful and overal, but always there.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby RobJN » Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:36 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
RobJN wrote:As Gaz 5 states, elves only get this expanded spell list if they learn their magic in a primarily elf-centric setting-- Alfheim, Wendar, Sylvan Realm, or the Shiye territories of Alphatia, I'd say.


How would you rule things for a wandering elf, though, say one who begins training in Alfheim but later relocates to Glantri, or Karameikos? Would they still only be able to use the Gaz5 list for their new spell levels learned, or would they switch to the magic-user list?

They'd get the vanilla magic user list in that case. I'd allow them to keep anything they've already learned, but they wouldn't get access to the enhanced spell list unless they were back in Alfheim.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby agathokles » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:37 am

Personally, I use a different approach. I separate "learning" magic from "powering" it. If you cast a "divine" spell, you need to channel power from one of the Spheres of Power. Whether you also learn the spell by Immortal intervention or the hard way does not matter. Thus, in my AD&D adaptation of Mystara, Pantheist and Specialist priests receive knowledge for their spells from the Immortals, whereas Philosophers need to learn them from scrolls or books or research, like Wizards. As this is consistent with Treekeepers (who're basically AD&D Fighter/Wizard/Druid multiclass characters) I'm tempted to port the same approach to BECMI.

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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:07 pm

Interesting discussion.

Would you consider that the later Mystara products were "updates" to Frank Menzer's BECMI rules and change the core magic users to match? Or do you think these are supposed to be parallel magic systems?

Did the AD&D 2nd Edition Mystara products convert any of these magic systems to work on an identical mechanic to each other? Or did the 2e rules create parallel mechanics? Perhaps that could give an indication of what to do with Classic D&D rules.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Tom Bulls Eye » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:10 pm

IMC we simple had elvish magic take elvish lifespans to learn. Hence humans couldn't aspire to learn these and the problem never arose in the first place.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Robin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:36 pm

Big Mac wrote:Interesting discussion.

Would you consider that the later Mystara products were "updates" to Frank Menzer's BECMI rules and change the core magic users to match? Or do you think these are supposed to be parallel magic systems?

Did the AD&D 2nd Edition Mystara products convert any of these magic systems to work on an identical mechanic to each other? Or did the 2e rules create parallel mechanics? Perhaps that could give an indication of what to do with Classic D&D rules.


Indeed, very interesting :ugeek:
I think that Basic D&D was the base they worked from, AD&D1 altered it slightly, and AD&D2 made significant differences with creating the 8 different schools of magic and keeping 1 generic mage. nothing more. meanwhile Mystara developed the different Glantrian , elven and other forms of magic(Dwarven craft magic for example)
When mystara became AD&D2 , they had to merge this somehow.,..and they did this messy..as can be seen in Glantri Kingdom(they did NOT choose Principality as that seemed too long word) of Magic.

This gave me the idea as proposed above... different sources of magic would easier explain all the variables and keep them in check
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:20 pm

Funny I brought this exact point up in another thread...and not a single person responded... ?
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:57 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:Something that has been on my mind in recent months has to do with the magical systems of Mystara and how they work and interact.

If they are still considered Arcane casters, then in theory, they are committing these Divine spells to writing, which means that other Arcane spellcasters (ie, magic-users) can learn them, too. Now suddenly the barrier between the two types of magic kind of breaks down, at least it does from my point of view.**

My solution to this is to decide that Mystaran elves can opt to be either Arcane or Divine casters from level one. In the former case, they will use the standard magic-user spell list and conduct their spellcasting accordingly; in the latter, they use the Gaz5 spell-list (the Path of the Treekeeper from G5 extended to cover the entirety of the list).

Still working through some ideas for some of the other discrepancies, but I'm curious as to other people's thought on this. Should Elf magic be considered its own thing, separate from Arcane and Divine magic? Am I making mountains out of molehills? :lol:

**As a side note, there certainly has always been a certain degree of overlap in the Arcane and Divine spell lists throughout most editions of the game, which is also odd, but not quite as problematic IMO as the overhaul of the spell-list from G5).


Robin wrote:I personally see it like this
At first there were 5 forms of magic
Elemental (drawn from the Elemental Planes)
Nature (Drawn from Nature itself) elves
Geo (Drawn from the Planet itself) witches, Dwarven artifact magic
Life (drawn from life itself) (carnivex were strong in this, they developed spells like Life Drain(age), Or Draining(life energy=levels), Weakness(constitution drain) and used this power as spell source..the new Warcraft movie reveals Orcs as using Life energy from many living entities..turning it evil and opening a portal, but they also used the energy of a drained deer to revive a baby))
Divine (drawn from the Immortals)
No-one can draw from more than one source and thus are restricted to the type they use


"Nature" based is generally referred to as "Mana" in most scenarios and game settings and rules I have seen Robin.

ALSO: This list is EXACTLY what I was hoping for in the other thread Robin. The life-draining reminds me a little of Dark Sun, but could be made unique with specific methods! ? I think... I really like the Geo idea though Robin! Please elaborate! Lastly I have an idea...or would like to hear more about the Crystal deposits in your campaign! Well...or really both.

The major difference between my campaign and other people's might be the fact that most classes or types of magicians...as they were originally and only called before Blackmoorian methods came along...can use MANY types of magic! But not being familiar enough with everyone's campaigns I couldn't really say...

Anyway...
I actually never found this to be a problem. The biggest "assumption" might be that the magic of each class or type (Arcane vs. Divine, etc.) is being derived from one source. IMC it is not the class so much that determines the source of the spell, but the nature of the spell itself. "Summon Elemental" is not an arcane spell, despite it being a magic-user spell and written down in a book. It is an Elemental spell. But I think this needs more explanation.

"Arcane" IMC does not denote simply being written in a book...but the "arcane" processes from which the spell originally derived.

I apologize for not explaining the Mondals method of creating magic more...but their "original" magics were not spells....but complex rituals that brought forth magic. As elves and humans learned these techniques for creating magic, they gave singular names to these rituals. Akin to those one might find in Jack Vance's "The Dying Earth" Saga. With fantastic names such as: Phandaal's Gyrator, Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, The Charm of Untiring Nourishment, and Spell of the Omnipotent Sphere; to name a few. Names which seem to imply a lot and mean nothing at the same time...kind of like one of our current political candidates... :mrgreen:

The other thing that should be noted about these rituals...is that they were just that! Rituals...not spells. They might take days, weeks, or months to prepare. If you have seen the cover of Dragon #200 this might give a good idea of what the SIMPLER rituals might have looked liked! Indeed, one of these rituals created the staves that were able to seal the breaches to the Shadow Realm/Plane.

Another point of note is that these rituals were nearly impossible to replicate. The nature of the Giamonds helped make these rituals replication more likely, as they channeled and controlled arcane power...from wherever it originated. IMC the sources for such energies...before being written down in books imbued with magical power...lay in places such as the Outer Planes; and rituals harnessed the rare or unique properties of these planes. The consequence of drawing such power from these nearly infinite and dangerous dimensions though ( I use dimension here only in a literary sense, not literal); often brought forth denizens of these undefined distances, and were the death of many and most magicians in that early time.

Later, one the greatest and most accomplished human magicians; Segorian, there is much debate about what was or whether he possessed a first name; discovered the ARCANE relationships between the resonate sounds of/in language, and how they could bring forth this unseen power....magic. He wrote down his discoveries along with a set of tables/tablets that became aptly known as The Segorian Tablets. These tablets provided the initial verbal components...you could think of them as the "atoms" or building blocks of spells...the the correct "order" in which they could be uttered to bring forth certain effects. Material and Somatic components later provided greater control, and more specific effects. With these three basic tools, basic arcane effects which would last for certain durations...or spells...of time, gradually began to be written down.

HOWEVER...there was not one school, or one method that existed. If you have read the Pennhaligon Trilogy, the magic that "originated" in ancient TUMA becomes known as Tumantian IMC. It is this "school" of magic that is used throughout the Known World IMC. This differs from the The Segorian School, which is taught in Fiaer Giamond. All Segorian Spells have a verbal component...even if it is just a quick single syllable command. As instantaneously spells could not be instantaneously cast otherwise!!

So although the methods for bringing forth the magical effects is "arcane" in that they are eventually written down...the true arcane nature of the spells comes NOT from them being written down in old musty tomes...but from the original ARCANE methods which brought them forth in the first place!

I am adding to his post...but forgot to type it in word first...and I don't want to lose what I have written!
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:56 pm

To break this up into more readable posts...a new one.

To answer your question about Treekeepers though Cthulhudrew...

IMC ALL elves start out as "basic" magic-users, and must attain ninth level before even being considered to enter the ranks of Treekeepers. In Alfheim this either means learning Tumantian magic, or Glantrian magic. Once being excepted into the Treekeeper ranks, the new acolyte/apprentice starts over at first level, relearning all spells through the Way of the Tree. The accepted disciple is not allowed to use the spells previously learned through other schools during this initial time. If he/she does, despite even life and death situations, the acolyte is either expelled from the Order, or must preform some quest to regain standing. Though preference for elves never having left the forest, as opposed to clanleaders/clanmasters, is always a factor.

Talyn Grunalf might be a notable exception. See Threshold Issue 10 and Robin's article "The Fall & Rise of the Canolbarth" for Talyn's write-up. I assume that Talyn has learned both Glantrian & Tumantian magic before embarking on the Path of the Tree. Your thoughts Robin?

Spells only available to Treekeepers are Divine in nature IMC, and come from the relationship between the Keeper and his/her charge; but of course being avatars of Ilsundal, the power they provide flows through him! Therefore it is important for clan Keepers to maintain good standing with both the Tree and Ilsundal!

AND oops...I forgot to add!! The elves of course have their own arcane school of magic brought with them from the sunken shores of Evergrun...when they first learned the art of magic from the Mondals...or wherever else someone might have had them originally gaining the knowledge of such power.

THEREFORE...Treekeepers and those on the Path of the Book learn ALL of their additional spells from arcane study. Though Treekeepers IMC are known to keep two Spellbooks. Those having either...or both Tumantian & Glantrian spells; and those having been rediscovered and copied from the library in Mealiden. Just another reason the elves are loathe to have foreigners in the library. As their magic is a more ancient than even that of Segorian or Tuma; at least...again... IMC. I guess a DM or campaign could get slightly crazy with this idea, and rule that a separate book would have to be kept for each school, and the initial ritual performed to instill magic in the book, might "reject" spells from other schools being written in/on its pages. Much like the human body rejecting the wrong blood type.

The Midland Elves...IMC the Veklogadion...Keepers learn their magic from the daughter Trees of The Fallen Tree. Their larger order "The Keepers of the Fallen Tree", is made up of all the Treekeepers of the individual clans; of which there are four major ones IMC; and their assistants, and well as The One True Keeper, who is custodian of the Fallen Tree, as well as his various assistants. I intended to include the article on the history of the Midland Elves and The Fallen Tree in Threshold Issue 10...but that didn't happen. Maybe it will be included in the next Elven-themed Issue?

Like the Alfheim Elves, the Midland Elves keep their own library of arcane magic. This library rests in Crystal Tower, which sits on an Clan's Isle in the center of the Ind Sea; which lies along the course of the Aldyn River. Not sure whether Cthulhudrew or Christian Constantin/Laoking gets credit for naming this river. The Aldyn, however; takes a more Westerly course on my maps of Brun. I named Crystal Tower while drawing out my map between 1989/1991 & 1994. Though the tower has some interesting possibilities given its name...and the idea of Robin's Crystals. Could a tower be built entirely from your Crystals Robin? In Fiaer Giamond only one (possibly two) buildings are constructed of Giamonds...the temples of Ordana & Djea. Though they make up the artistic elements of the buildings....not the structural!

Which brings us back to Fiaer Giamond and the Segorian school. Midland Elves have either one book of Elven spells, or a second containing Segorian. "Spider Climb" happens to be a Segorian spell IMC. The Tumantian versions of this spell has been lost to the ages. Though perhaps it still exists waiting to be found!? Hey Rob...haven't read through all of Thorn's Chronicle, but maybe you or micky has some Glantrian mage bent on finding this out?

Lastly there are the spells learned by the Shiye-Lawr. At this point IMC, as the Shiye have no keepers, though it is possible for a scarce few to become priests of Erendyl. Though ALL of his spells would be provided divinely in the fashion of clerics. Those elves using arcane methods would of course use Alphatian schools and sources. Which might have a very different nature indeed given the Alphatians origins!

Things like Bigby's Crushing Fist/Hand don't exist IMC because the effects mirror certain innate Immortal powers.

Another point I forgot to mention is...no elf not embarking on The Way of the Tree should be able to cast clerical magic. Though druidic magic might be up for debate. I just think letting an elven mage...student of The Way of the Book...cast things like Protection From Evil would unbalance the game, and diminish the role of clerics.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:11 pm

RobJN wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
RobJN wrote:I'd simply rule that human magic users might be able to make some sense of the spells from the expanded Gaz5 spell lists -- maybe even tell what they do -- but would not be able to cast them. It's elven magic, made available to the elves by Ilsundal through his Treekeepers.


Any thoughts on the two conflicting spell lists for elves? The Gaz5 one and the BECMI/Cyclopedia magic-user list? Would you consider it just a matter of where they learn their magic (human schools or among elves), and would you allow them to mix and match spells from both lists?

As Gaz 5 states, elves only get this expanded spell list if they learn their magic in a primarily elf-centric setting-- Alfheim, Wendar, Sylvan Realm, or the Shiye territories of Alphatia, I'd say.


Maybe I missed this being resolved...but it was my understanding that the EXPANDED list was only for use by Treekeepers. This would mean only the Keepers of the Ten Trees, or only any Keeper of a daughter tree of one of the ten original Trees/Avatars of Ilsundal would have access to the expanded spell list. I should note that IMC the Midland & Calarii have two of the remaining three Trees. I haven't placed the final Tree...though I know it isn't anywhere on Skothar. I had originally thought it might have made its' way back to Davania, either in the forest surrounded by the Diamond Range, or in the Brasolian Jungle/Forest. I am leaning more towards the Brasolian Forest or NW Brun, as I believe Seer of Yhog and Alex B have Divergent or other cultures located there...and I would like to incorporate their material into my campaign if possible. Rob & Cthulhudrew...or anyone else really...where have you guys place the Tenth Tree. Seems like it would make an interesting Companion Level Module: The Tenth Tree! Do most people have the Calarii possessing one? I know many people have given the Midland Elves on of the original ten.

Elves following the Way of the Book would have access to the library in Mealiden, but not the expanded spell list. HOWEVER; that doesn't mean that the Evergrun school(s) couldn't have their own unique spells only available to Elven mages...and possibly the select few allowed to view their library!
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:18 pm

agathokles wrote:Personally, I use a different approach. I separate "learning" magic from "powering" it. If you cast a "divine" spell, you need to channel power from one of the Spheres of Power. Whether you also learn the spell by Immortal intervention or the hard way does not matter. Thus, in my AD&D adaptation of Mystara, Pantheist and Specialist priests receive knowledge for their spells from the Immortals, whereas Philosophers need to learn them from scrolls or books or research, like Wizards. As this is consistent with Treekeepers (who're basically AD&D Fighter/Wizard/Druid multiclass characters) I'm tempted to port the same approach to BECMI.

GP


This is another good way of approaching it GP. I actually have an entirely new class IMC that originated in Fiaer Giamond...but I don't want to say much about it as it is slowly revealed in another episodal series I started writing...which is actually Tales from the Waste, and as the first episode is nearly done should hopefully make its appearance in Threshold Issue 16. Here's hoping.

Sorry for the long string of posts...but I though I would make a few smaller ones, rather than the epically long ones I typically post. But Lastly I wanted to comment on Robin's ideas, and Tom's comment.

Tom Bulls Eye wrote:IMC we simple had elvish magic take elvish lifespans to learn. Hence humans couldn't aspire to learn these and the problem never arose in the first place.


So I guess longevity potions weren't a thing in your campaign? What about races living longer spans of time? Dwarves or magic-using kin? I also have to ask...what then were the beginning ages of elves in your campaign? I would guess around 100 to 120? This would make sense with Gaz5 cannon and Steve Perrin's assumption(s) about how elves matured, and how they spent the first century of their life.

This is something that was never really discussed in detail in cannon sources. I mean we know Eriadna and many Alphatian mages used longevity potions. This is probably true for Glantrian Wizards as well. But how long could they keep this up? IMC a mage could potentially live up to 600 years doing this...but by this age his body would be saturated in so much "mana" for lack of a better word, that it could no longer hold anymore. I use "mana" instead of other forms of magic, and would think any permanent effects...and the permanance spell itself, would have to include some mana/natural magic, as this kind would NOT be affected by the Day of Dread. In this way, that days effects could take place WITHOUT affecting the megalith Mystara. Assuming someone's campaign has ruled Mystara is indeed a sentient, or on some level living/conscious being. I haven't really made up my mind about this. The biggest problem making Mystara a megalith for me involves the presence of burrowers...which any megalith would have surely expelled on its own! Or be aware of where they were. Which brings up two things that I have trouble swallowing.

1. If Mystara is a sentient, conscious, living being; then the Immortals surely have some communication with her/it. I can't reasonably imagine that the being holding overwhelming majority of their followers would not be in communication with the Immortals.

2. While we humans might not initially be aware of cancer in our bodies, at some point the pain and problems become too hard to ignore. I think of the burrowers as Mystara's cancer. How then could they still lie dormant and unnoticed by both Mystara & the Immortals.

Though on another note...I was never that crazy about the burrowers. :mrgreen:

Lastly comments on what Robin wrote.

Though you know I like most of your ideas...and like the sources of magic you listed, much of the Radiance "lore" doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I am not sure how you deal with Radiance in your campaign/ethos Robin; but in mine The Radiance...or all Radiance is Technology based or Technomantic in nature. THEREFORE, the Radiance has nothing to do with most schools of magic, as most schools and types of magic do NOT employ technology in their use. This would means Elemental, Necromancy, Arcane types of magic...and all of the schools using these magical sources of power...would not have any type of Radiant energy whatsoever. How do you resolve this in your ethos/campaign? The hardest of all of these to "believe" might be any kind of Radiant presence in Elemental forms of magic. Which undoubtedly draw their power from the Elemental Planes. A place by its very nature, the radiance could not exist!

Most ridiculous might be the assertion that the Radiance or Day of Dread would effect divine magic. During the initial Day of Dread, I think it is entirely plausible that the Immortals were so "freaked out" by the event, that they were unable to "answer" or direct any of their power to providing spells to their followers. But in a years time, or two at most perhaps as they don't at first realize it is a reoccurring event; I would fully expect them to have prepared for this reoccurrence. That being the case, I don't see how the Radiance, or residual fallout...pun intended, could be affecting DIVINE magic. I mean if it could be effected, it wouldn't really be divine...would it?

I am eventually going to add more to the Radiance topic...but just thought of this. Are you saying "Geo" magic is stemming directly from the Megalith? In this way it might make sense that Dwarven craft-magic is Geo based, as the precious metals and minerals they might be mining from within Mystara are inherently imbued/saturated with magical energy. But then would or could "Geo" magic be a newer form of Earth Elemental magic? In the same way that perhaps "Frost" is a newer form of Water Elemental Magic? I am afraid I am not up on all the fanon material about the Winter or Ice Queen and her reign...but it seemed to tread (possibly to closely) to Narnia's mythos. But I thought the Winter Queen used some kind of "Frost" magic?

This would then mean Mystara's Mana/"Natural" magic is not stemming from the planet per se, but from the intercommunicative web of life growing on its surface. Much like Eawa in Avatar? I know...awful reference... :mrgreen:
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Hugin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:54 pm

julius_cleaver wrote:Funny I brought this exact point up in another thread...and not a single person responded... ?

I've had that kind of experience myself. I think it all comes down to timing; hitting a topic at just the right time that others have thoughts on it.

I know from a commenting standpoint I've also done the same thing. There are times where I have the time and though process to comment and there are other times that, even though interested, I just don't have the time or state of mind to add anything. And it kind of sucks on both sides. :(
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby julius_cleaver » Thu Oct 06, 2016 6:11 pm

Hugin wrote:
julius_cleaver wrote:Funny I brought this exact point up in another thread...and not a single person responded... ?

I've had that kind of experience myself. I think it all comes down to timing; hitting a topic at just the right time that others have thoughts on it.

I know from a commenting standpoint I've also done the same thing. There are times where I have the time and though process to comment and there are other times that, even though interested, I just don't have the time or state of mind to add anything. And it kind of sucks on both sides. :(


Yeah, I probably shouldn't take it personally...but I did. ;(
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 6:37 pm

julius_cleaver wrote:
Hugin wrote:I know from a commenting standpoint I've also done the same thing. There are times where I have the time and though process to comment and there are other times that, even though interested, I just don't have the time or state of mind to add anything. And it kind of sucks on both sides. :(


Yeah, I probably shouldn't take it personally...but I did. ;(


It looks like your original post was from a bit before I started to become a bit more active again here. I had thought about searching for similar threads to piggyback on, but I'm not sure I would have caught it even then, as my initial thinking with this was a bit more narrowly focused on game mechanics than it has grown into.

(That's not a complaint, mind; there has been a lot of really good and thought-provoking commentary to come up that I hadn't even really begun to consider. I'm still parsing through some of the earlier posts to keep the conversation going.)

Sorry if I stepped on your toes a bit, but I'm glad you joined in on this! :D
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Traianus » Thu Oct 06, 2016 6:43 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:
RobJN wrote:I'd simply rule that human magic users might be able to make some sense of the spells from the expanded Gaz5 spell lists -- maybe even tell what they do -- but would not be able to cast them. It's elven magic, made available to the elves by Ilsundal through his Treekeepers.


Any thoughts on the two conflicting spell lists for elves? The Gaz5 one and the BECMI/Cyclopedia magic-user list? Would you consider it just a matter of where they learn their magic (human schools or among elves), and would you allow them to mix and match spells from both lists?



In the campaigns I've been a part of, only elves from Alfheim can use the Gaz5 list. We later expanded it to allow elves from traditional clans to use it (live in forests with a Tree of Life) and Foresters. Other elves use the standard MU list and DM makes final call. Magic-users can't transcribe or use anything on the Arcane Elven list, although they can comprehend the language as being related to the MU's arcane language (think how Latin relates to French or Spanish). Elves, however, can read, scribe and use MU arcane spells.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Robin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:37 pm

Dear Julius
A lot of question I have to answer
offtopic
1st...I never noticed your post, missed it (RL is a bitch). I know how this feels...in my 1 mile post I often rquested help but though there were many readers only a few dare to respond, and that gives indeed a nasty feeling (as if what you do is not good enough, or it is you or similar). I ahave learned to try to negate those feelings and continue. The few responses good will charge you. And it might be the title, the moment, which people passed by, their feeling to the subject or your words or even you. It is difficult to read behind the words, most people forget there is a living individual with emotions, feelings and a desire to feel as a human with need to communicate behind the typed words.That is all I can say about it. Just don't take it personally...I know that is hard sometimes especially if RL sucks. But try to not do that.

Back to the topic itself

You may call it mana or magic or energy or life, or whatever, in the end it is magic to enable an effect.

Nature based is from the Life essence of a biosphere (plants, animals, micro organisms and their conjoined effects...1 on 1 each has its personal energy, but 1+1 is not two in this conjoined case, it is more, way more)

I remember Darksun indeed having energy draing varieties of magic with different outcomes.

You may call a spell a ritual but in fact they are the same but the ritual is more intricate and/or larger scale in producing/effect.
Both are collecting the requested energy by specific methods devised for this energy...hence a Nature magic (like Treekeeper elf) cannot use other magic effectivly, but,,,,it can read and study the spell, and try if it can come up with its own version...like learning a new spell (see Rules Cyclopedia). Rituals are thus large or intricate it goes beond the capabilities of one caster, one stack of components, one set of weaving/collecting energy, and directing it to its goal. Like the Ritual the Shadow Elves did to affect the Canolbarth(given by Atzanteotl) was too much for a single elf, many Shadow Elves did this together, and evenn then they needed lots of time and effort and preparation, and actually while they did(still not) fully understand the magic called forth (Atzanteotl uses Life/death magic. Shadow Elves are actually in interesting case; first as Elves; Nature magic users, Then exposed to Radiance infected magic, resorting to easier(full radiance) magic, Then fleeing down, Rafiel guides them (no pun intended) to the creation of the Chamber of Spheres. This is made of Crystals grown naturally IN the planet/megalith. (These all had some specific biological purpose which the creature used (no longer as it is dead/dying /or immortal agreed immobile<which I think shortly oke, but hundreds of milions of years, nah...I have other opinions (see my Megalith article on my blog)), then the Shadow Elves slowly convert to Geo magic, abandoning Radiance and radiance affected magic purely...as Rafiel foresees the depletion or explosion of the reactor-he worked so long on--he steers the Elves to another source...The only source of energy he could know...since the reactor is energized on Dilitium (or something similar) and then transformed into Radiance energy (called magic here and handled differently).

The aforementioned possible sources are just a few, more might exist or develop later (Moon, Sun, Meteorites could be among them)
Radiance is just the energy created from the Reactor, however, as it is actually corrupted, wrongly controlled but easy access magic it sheds polutive Radioactivity. This radioactivity is what we Also call the radiance (the other radiance is the energy drawn from the reactor directly or indirectly). This might be confusing, but keep in mind the Mystarans do not know or fully understand technology, and never did norcould have the Galacticans (the race of the USS Beagle) have ever truly understood Magic...to them it is a different source of energy...or magic ;)

Radiance is indeed technology, but all energy in whatever shape is in effect driven from the same source (treu in RL= Big Bang), but changed naturally, chemically, biolocally, or radiology, or technologicallly. As mentioned above though each use of various magic can be similar in effect, the source is different. Radiance is a source which corrupts existing magic like a virus/radioactive agent, and to be able to use that magic still you have to adapt to the infected method.
As most Immortals come from AFTER the Great Rain of Fire they are ALL used to using infected magic, and give that to their followers. The other earlier Immortals their magic to their followers was indeed NOT radiance affected, but as soon as cast it is, as they are in a Radiance dominated/infected biosphere. As thus even they seem to be affected.
The continuous degredation of Radiance by time, use and biological(and other) adaptations will enable more effect for clerics,and immortals alike.

The explosion of the Radiance eventually (like the Day of Dread) is a initially wave of antimagic, and thus all magic is affected. Radiance affected magic the worst to recover, the nature versions the first (especially witches as they have the best knowledge to this. Divine magic based on Radiance infected magic will be equally affected, but it is in these moments that older immortals might notice that their magic returns faster, and thus could lead (like I suggested to an immortal imbalance and an oppurtunity to start Ragnarok--as in the Edda it were Loki and Hell doing this; floating with an army of Undead, evil souls, and giants on the river of blades and knives on their ship made of the nails of the dead. It was Fenris who warned the Immortals so they could react, but still many perished, Odin foresaw all of this due his meditations in the Well of Knowledge at the roots of the Yggdrasil. It is not said odin will die but he dissapears, maybe he ascended during Ragnarok to become an Old One. The first Immortal which name came forth afterwards was Baldur...Off topicand some RL theists even think he did exist in RL and reincarnated as Jezus.....
On topic
Indeed Geo magic derives its energy fro certain parts of the Megalith ( lava flows, crystals, overall energy) As such dwarven craft magic resembles much elemental magic (as I used in my Blog Mergrath the Dwarven "Druid" who is actually only an Earth Elementalist understanding the source). All elementalists either draw power directly from that Plane, or from corresponding materials in the Prime Plane. As such a Conjure Elemental always needs some of the element used in the spell to enable an elemental to rise, other elemental magic would be similar.
however, as Geo magic is Prime Plane based and thus harbors also the other elements, the differences would be too great to equalize Earth elementalists and Geo mages. Geo mages for example can also affect the environment with fire, air or water, and an elementalist can't do that.
As similar to Avatar the Crystals, lava tunnels, wordshield all connect, and as it is one sentient (dying, dead, silent or not) entity with thought remaining (or a flickering of a soul) these function conscious and unconsciously.like any organism. (you can slow down your hearrate if you truly want to, but otherwise it is automatic)

Talyn is a Treekeeper thus she learned nature magic, but this is still radiance affected.She would however be a perfect character discovering the radiance infection and desiring to restore clean nature magic.

The radioactivity of the reactor actually spoiled the whole planet, radioactive diseases and afflictions (the wasting Disease, Mutations, Many racial varieties, et, but it also made magic corruprted, making it easier to be used, handled and drawn) This is what i mean wth existing magic being Radiance affected.
The witches were the first to notice this (in the Blackmoor era already) and started to study its effects and how to circumvent the Radiance in casting magic.
This took centuries, but slowly more and more come forth, while in effect the effective amount of available radiance diminishes due depletion of the reactor. This depletion is also the reason that elemental mages were the second to notice the effects, but way later. The Frost mages were until now the most effective in it by travelling far away they could from the Radiance but still in their favourite medium.

The Frost Mage is a rare kind of Elementalist Mage., one who specializes in a mixture of two schools of Elemental Magic. In this case, the mixture is air and water, which he uses to create spells of ice, frost and cold. They make use of the Energies from the Outer Plane of Frost and Ice. Until recently, Frost Magic wasn’t really a specialty. There were shamans among the people of the Northern Reaches, Ostland, Vestland, Quedhar, and the Soderfjord Jarldoms who possessed some skill with it, but they were few and far between. Now Mages calling themselves Frost Mages, with skills equal to other Elementalists, have begun making their way through the northern lands (1002AC.). Their school is rather limited, making Frost Mages careful about how they operate. It should come as no surprise that the Northlands are where the school is strongest.

There was a Mage known as Olgi Thepoli the 9th century after crowning who first collected all cold relative spells, invented some of his own and so first became a real Frost Mage. As a Polar Werefox he had abilities other than normal Humans. Together with 8 apprentices he started out the first recorded specialized Frost Magic in the Hyborean village Egg. He even had to infect the population with his disease of Lycantropy to save them from the extremely harsh and cold winters in those days.


I agree that casting Clerical magic would affect the game and decrease the use of Clerics...but keep in mind that canonnically Elven Clerics did not exist in the Gazetteer line, but were later inserted after Mystara became AD&D2 and by fans. Dual Classes characters from AD&D2 (or later D&D versions) do the same..disrupting the game balance. This is what it makes D&D often a hack&slash game with inexperienced or powerhungry players or DM's, especially in the Later D&D versions. but that is my personal opinion...removing Morale for example...foolish)

To the Elves the way of the book holds most Radiance infected magic spells, the way of the tree the least. The way of the tree holds many spells clerical in appearance,but druids do also use only nature magic and though loyal to an immortal do NOT get spells from them, they draw upon nature's magic Pure. As thus (elven) druids are in effect equal to treekeepers, the only difference would be the immortal allegiance.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Irondrake » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:24 pm

RobJN wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
RobJN wrote:As Gaz 5 states, elves only get this expanded spell list if they learn their magic in a primarily elf-centric setting-- Alfheim, Wendar, Sylvan Realm, or the Shiye territories of Alphatia, I'd say.


How would you rule things for a wandering elf, though, say one who begins training in Alfheim but later relocates to Glantri, or Karameikos? Would they still only be able to use the Gaz5 list for their new spell levels learned, or would they switch to the magic-user list?

They'd get the vanilla magic user list in that case. I'd allow them to keep anything they've already learned, but they wouldn't get access to the enhanced spell list unless they were back in Alfheim.


This is how I handle it with elf characters as well.

As I recall, an elf who learns the elven spells in a elf-centric setting are following the Way of the Tree, while elves who learn the standard magic, like those found in Karameikos, Glantri, and Thyatis, are following the Way of the Book. I believe this was mentioned in GAZ5.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:34 pm

Irondrake wrote:As I recall, an elf who learns the elven spells in a elf-centric setting are following the Way of the Tree, while elves who learn the standard magic, like those found in Karameikos, Glantri, and Thyatis, are following the Way of the Book. I believe this was mentioned in GAZ5.


It does, but what I was looking for (and perhaps didn't really articulate well enough in the OP) is for some kind of explanation of why spells learned from one tradition/Way might not be able to be transposed for usage by practitioners of the other tradition. Essentially a rationalization behind the mechanics. There have been a lot of good suggestions so far though.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:39 pm

julius_cleaver wrote:Rob & Cthulhudrew...or anyone else really...where have you guys place the Tenth Tree. Seems like it would make an interesting Companion Level Module: The Tenth Tree! Do most people have the Calarii possessing one? I know many people have given the Midland Elves on of the original ten.


I've never really put a lot of thought into the missing trees. I do think the Callarii tree is probably a daughter tree of one of the other clan trees (not sure which, but the Red Arrow or Erewan clans seem like good prospects), and the Vyalia I've always imagined is one of the lost ones, although I'm no longer as certain about that as I once was.
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Re: Magic Systems of Mystara: How Do They Work?

Postby Irondrake » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:59 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:Some of the other options introduced via the Mystara supplements similarly complicate things (Merchant-Princes from Gaz9, elf-druids and elf-clerics from Voyage of the Princess Ark, Foresters from Dawn of the Emperors, and probably some I'm forgetting offhand).


For the Merchant-Prince dual class, they use the water elf magical spells (which the water elf characters of Minrothad also use), which seem can be taught to humans and land-based elves. The water elf spell list also has some spells that only the water elf Keeper can cast.

On the subject of the Merchant-Prince class, while it does not say this in GAZ9, I have ruled that Merchant-Princes need spellbooks just as magic-users and elves do. They also cannot wear armor; I came to this conclusion because there is only one human Merchant-Prince NPC in the book, and he does not wear armor. This makes sense as only elves can cast spells in armor (thus, an Elf / Merchant-Prince could cast spells in armor). I've been working on a similar dual class called Mage, which allows the human classes to take magical spellcasting as a dual class (in essence, it works much in the same way as the Merchant-Prince class, which is really just a secondary class for spellcasting, and is not a bad blueprint for the idea of the Mage dual class).

For Elf Druids and Elf Clerics, I wrote up these classes in Issue 10 of Threshold. I ruled that they have access to divine magic, but elven clerics of the Immortal Ilsundal, though treated with equal reverence, do not perform the same function or ceremonies within the clan as Treekeepers, nor are they able to harness the elven magic granted to the Treekeepers by Ilsundal.

Foresters were addressed in two articles in Issue 11 of Threshold, and the article by Korro Zal gave some great insight into the class. Basically, the Foresters are imbued with the ability to cast elven magic by Isundal, which explains their ability to wear armor while casting spells as well.

My question for everyone is how do you handle the spells of the Darokin Merchant class? They are not divine spells, and would seem to be magical spells, but there is no mention that the Merchants need or use spellbooks. Should I consider them as magical spells that require spellbooks for my BECMI campaign?
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