Sunday, June 14, 2015

Scimitars against the Dark and the magic in dream Al-Qadim campaign

I still have this dream Al-Qadim campaign I'd like to run, and reading through Spells & Magic lately, I've been thinking of any rules alterations I'd want to do. The key thing that sticks in my brain is those nifty alternate magic systems. Channelers, Witches & Warlocks, Alienists, Defilers & Preservers, Ritual Prayer, Conditional Magic... That could be game-changing stuff.

But I can't find any info on it online. Did anyone use these in play? Was one of the systems horribly broken or easy to abuse? Do they mix well in the same game?

The obvious first thing to do is assign different magic systems to different classes. Start with the priests:

Hierarchy Priests (Pragmatists, Ethoists, Moralists) - Ritual prayer. These folks follow the rules and gain their religion's power through rites and rituals. It may take longer to cast a spell if they do the right thing, but they can save some power by taking time to do it right and/or make a spell more potent with the right sacrifices or time.

Free Priests (Mystics and Kahins) - Conditional Magic. These free priests gain their power through investments and dedication. When they act in their deity's interest, their spells are quite potent. If they act against their deity's will, their spells are reduced.

Hakimas - Technically free priests, but neither of the previous magic systems seem appropriate. I'm leaning towards channelling, but it doesn't quite seem like they should be weakened by the cosmic insights they are granted. There's not a real established Hakima code to build conditional magic out of though, nor is there some Hakima rite to base ritual prayer off of. So I'm a little stumped.

Moving on to the wizards, its also nebulous here. I'm not sure if its unfair to have two types of priests use a different system than wizards, but there's baggage on a few of the ends.

First off, channelling seems reasonably appropriate, even if it were to be shared with the Hakima. I want to keep the Brotherhood of True Flame in the setting, others are so minor it's hardly important.

Second, either warlockry or alienism seems like it could be grand for the setting, but they don't fit with the Brotherhood of True Flame. They'd be great for a Scimitars Against The Dark type game though, and alienism fits the sungazer wizard kit in that Scimitars.. article in Dragon Magazine. But in a world where magic is gleaned from demons or the dark between the stars (or monsters that existed before time was?), where is the role for the Brotherhood? The sword-and-sorcery that I've read generally eschews wizards' guilds because wizards are power-hungry madmen, so maybe alienism isn't the worst. Warlockry kinda steps on the Sha'ir's feet though. Also, alienism really would force a Scimitars Against the Dark type game where I'm not 100% sure that's what I'd be into.

Speaking of the Sha'ir, even if Alienism is adopted for most wizards, alienism certainly doesn't fir the Sha'ir. Then again, the sha'ir also has a unique magic mechanism, so maybe an alteration there isn't needed after all. Though channelling would be fitting, it would just hinder the Sha'ir more: they're already pretty limited in terms of spells they get to cast, and channelling wouldn't really limit the Sha'ir much because they'd be resting a bit while their gen fetches a new spell anyway.

Then there's the Rawun. Bards are spellcasters in AD&D, so what's their magic system. And there's paladins and rangers too, but I suspect paladins could be ritual and rangers could be conditional no problem. But bards get a good number of spells. Should every rawun go bad from learning cosmic secrets? Probably not. So I'm tempted to give them channelling like the Hakima, but that seems crappy too.

Best case thus far, I'm just doing stuff for priests other than the Hakima. Maybe its not worth it after all. Or maybe channelling can be just used for the mages (not sha'ir), bard, paladin, ranger, and hakima. Alienism might really shake up the setting a bit (what if you eliminate non-free priests as spellcasting options?), but it might do too much.

The other major problem here is these variants are only applicable to an OSR or 2nd Edition game. This would majorly impact the balance of things in 5e. One reason, I suppose, why I like how older editions are still more customizeable.

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