Magic at high circles

Discussion on the Earthdawn game line, errata, and feedback not related to playing or GMing.
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BRW
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Magic at high circles

Post by BRW » Tue May 01, 2018 8:00 am

Since this topic has been essentially started in the Conpanion thread, I think it might be interesting to discuss what we expect from master and warden tier magic.

1. I believe that at highest tiers there should be solid foundation for plot device effects. I would be happy to see how do you make those flying fortresses or, for that matter, Blood Elves.

It would be nice if we were provided some general framework or an extensive list of examples. One game mechanic that I find particularly inspiring are sorcerous workings from the third edition of Exalted.

2. As for high-tier spells: I am not quite sure, but I think there should be such spells at Warden tiers, so that the presence of spellcasters in combat encouters doesn't become irrelevant at later stages of the campaign.

I believe that regardless of whether such spells are included in Magic Emporium or not, their inexistence shouldn't be enforced setting-wise. If for no better reason, they might provide a design space for evil spellcaster final bossy NPCs.

What do you think about it?

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Kosmit
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Kosmit » Tue May 01, 2018 8:22 am

Since Gateway is missing I would like to have it back :D

Slimcreeper
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Slimcreeper » Tue May 01, 2018 11:59 am

For the most powerful spells, I'd actually like to see a simplified spell creation mechanic, so that the caster can produce exactly the effect that is appropriate. I'm thinking about the Shivilahalalalla Vistrimon (I'm not looking at books, those spellings will have to do) sinking the Theran fleet, or the spell that created Mountain's Weight, or that moved Parlainth out of Barsaive, or that created the Sphinx in Thera. It's going to depend on GM discretion, but at that point the GM will be extremely experienced at knowing what is appropriate for the game.

A 15th Circle Elementalist could create a permanent bridge across a mountain gorge. An Illusionist could make an entire battle seem like it is transported to an illusory fun house where the caster is in control. A Wizard could create a floating tower of gossamer and fog to transport her and all of her friends across Barsaive in comfort. A Nethermancer could sanctify a city so that corpses cannot rise from the dead for 100 years.

Bonhumm
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Bonhumm » Tue May 01, 2018 5:59 pm

I think there still should be a limit at what even a 15th Circle mage can do. Although the 'elemental-shift' spell used during the attack on the Floating city is recent, I think that it's 'power' is far bellow your other examples (Parlainth and particualarly the Sphinx (which I'm certain will have something to do with the fall of Thera/end of 4th age)). Those 2 were created back when magic was a lot more powerful and would have allowed (theorically) adepts of circle way higher than 15th.

I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere than even now we were not sure if the current level of magic could support the existance of a 15th circle adept.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Slimcreeper » Tue May 01, 2018 9:28 pm

Maybe. I’d rather start big and scale back if necessary. The important thing is to make the cost high enough that it won’t be used casually.

Bonhumm
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Bonhumm » Tue May 01, 2018 11:39 pm

Slimcreeper wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 9:28 pm
Maybe. I’d rather start big and scale back if necessary. The important thing is to make the cost high enough that it won’t be used casually.
GM: The single Shadowmant fly harmlessly in the sky, it does not seem to have noticed you at all.
Player: I SINK THERA!

Slimcreeper
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed May 02, 2018 12:43 am

“You have solved my Shadomant puzzle!”

Fortesque
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Fortesque » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:30 pm

I know this thread is older...but I found 2 cents here in the present day.

I very much come from the original lore set behind Earthdawn's creation. First edition spellcasting lore laid out a nice explanation as to why spellcasters of the now can't cast spells of the Master Tier...and why so few spells of Warden tier exist (even in past editions).

The innate magic of the world is no longer high enough. Master tier spells require the magician gather a sea of magic energy to funnel into the spell...and there are only lakes and ponds with occasional streams left to draw from. The same reasons the worst and most dangerous of Horrors are gone account for the lack of knowledge and prowess in Warden/Master tier spellcasting.

I believe it was alluded to... the most powerful magicians (and dragons) might know methods and rituals for gathering the necessary energy, or can tap into ley lines, or find "pockets" of higher mana levels that can be used to cast such spells... But why bother? Do you really need to make a bridge between mountains if you control airships? Do you really need to put a city in a bottle? Are you sure you can survive the political backlash that comes with making blood orks?

The beauty about Fourth Edition spellcasting is in the Additional Threads and the Additional Successes for every spell. You will have an abundance of those effects available to you at Warden and Master tier. The simple fireballs will become epic infernos from the hands of Masters.

That said...I would love to see the idea of the spell creation system revisited. Some of the fun about Earthdawn spellcasters was personalizing the caster's spell list with a few unique creations. AND it's fun to see a player BS his way through an explanation of "walking tree servants are absolutely the realm of a Wizard, not an Elementalist, because the walking tree is merely animated, not invested with a spirit/elemental..."

Bonhumm
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Bonhumm » Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:51 am

Fortesque wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:30 pm
The innate magic of the world is no longer high enough. Master tier spells require the magician gather a sea of magic energy to funnel into the spell...and there are only lakes and ponds with occasional streams left to draw from. The same reasons the worst and most dangerous of Horrors are gone account for the lack of knowledge and prowess in Warden/Master tier spellcasting.
The water comparison is good. However for the Horrors it's the other way around: the strongest ones are remaining (I'm looking at you Verjigorm). So the relationship between their apparition and magic is... unclear (unless I missed something canon somewhere)

On one hand you could argue that their presence do not require a high level of magic (i.e. they can come to the material world because the barrier between our worlds is weakened BY the high level of magic). Thus the reduction in Horror-related destruction between 'now' and the Scourge would be due to a drastic reduction in the NUMBER of Horrors instead of the most powerful one leaving: Meeting Artificer sucks, but I'd still prefer that to a thousand Bloodforms at the same time.

But then, if this is so, there is the question of why is it that the first Horrors who appeared before the scourge were the weakest ones (both in Earthdawn and Shadowrun). I guess we could argue that the Horrors are sleeping during low-level magic times (like the Great Dragons did Between the 4th and 6th Age) and need a high-level of magic (MUCH higher than Dragons) to wake up. So that although they could have walked into the material world MUCH earlier, they were napping.

Fortesque wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:30 pm
Do you really need to put a city in a bottle? Are you sure you can survive the political backlash that comes with making blood orks?
OMG Blood Orks!

oh! oh! And make their Gahad being 'people with thorns'.

Fortesque
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Re: Magic at high circles

Post by Fortesque » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:43 am

Most of the lore I draw from was First Edition stuff. I've used the updated mechanics, more or less, through the years because most mechanics revisions try to sort out errors, redundancies and exploited loopholes.

From what I remember of it, Verjigorm was given stats in a book as an exercise of "look how bad-ass Horrors can be!". However, Verjigorm never came to the material plane in the Fourth World...at least, no signs of his passage have been detected. This makes dragons nervous. AND, I'll admit, there may be an obscure novel or adventure manual I missed which references him.

Horrors do not sleep in the material plane. They are killed off, or leave for their native Netherplanes. The more intelligent ones may migrate to pockets of higher magic, the less intelligent ones usually require far less magic, but are more easily defeated.

The fact that magic must rise to a certain level to let the big ones in...and conversely fall to push the Horrors away is a theme spoken about many times in Earthdawn/Shadowrun. Harlequinn and Harlequinn's Back touch on these concepts from the Shadowrun side of things, as does the Dragon Heart Saga (shadowrun trilogy by Jak Koke). It is a little harder, at this time to reference the sections of Earthdawn lore that speak of it (my hardcopies from 1st Edition are boxed in storage)

However, all of this is just an exercise in creativity. The best answer is the one that is the most fun at your table with everyone's involvement. I have a group which is confused about the Passions and their role in the culture of Barsaive. As "not gods", it is difficult to offer them devotion without thinking of them as gods in D&D. So, we use less Passions in our stories.

If Verjigorm is hanging out in North America waiting for Master tier PCs to fly the Earthdawn straight into it's lair with Purifier in hand...well, that sounds like a very specific sort of fun.

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