Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Formulae, Mantras, and Charms

An idea for now, specific examples may follow in a later post.

One thing about D&D-a-like games that is of concern to be is the disconnect in the spell casting system and item creation. Early editions and those emulating them have a host of slippery loosely defined caveat system usually tied to a varied mix of coin, (mostly undefined) ingredients, and time. Later editions tied item creation to a few key feats along with expenses of coin and time. both were not tied tightly to spell-casting ability on a regular basis. AD&D had a couple item creation/enchantment spells but they just don't have the across the board treatment I'm thinking about here. Sure you couldn't scribe a sleep spell if you didn't know the sleep spell but if you had the time and the coin deciding to scribe a sleep spell was of no other consequence. If home base is safe (or mostly safe) the expenses of making a magical item in most versions of the rules had no immediate impact on spell casting across the board.

Each of the tools mentioned hereafter uses up a spell slot that could otherwise be spent on an active spell but is instead lost to immediate casting by being used for the tool in question. This system wraps what some versions of the game call "meta-magic" and item creation into the same core mechanic as spell casting. In brevity: A magic-user has to decide if he'd rather have a potion brewing at the lab (and tying up a 3rd level spell until done) or have a fireball spell on hand.

Incantations needed to produce a variety of effects that are not spontaneously generated. Each of the formulae has a creation time and it is required for the creation to be completed the magician must keep the formulae in mind and prepared during the entire creation time despite other successful mixing and application of ingredients and apparatus.
A formulae may only be applied once per preparation. For example a healing draught may have a casting time of one week and but one dose may be prepared if the magician/alchemist has prepared the formulae but one time.
If psionic attacks, energy drain, or magical theft were to strip the formulae from a casters mind before the item in question was completed the creation would be ruined.

A charm is a passive protective magic tied to a specific condition or spell that is expended once that condition is encountered or spell is targeted upon the bearer of the charm. A charm benefits of a charm may be transferred to another being but the caster must still maintain the charm or it is effect is lost. Charms offer a bonus to save vs the condition or spell they are meant to protect against and may have benefit even on a failed save. A charm may be tied to a person, animal, place, or object. An object of clothing, armor, or jewelry with a charm placed upon it will benefit the item and anyone wearing the item. A charm placed on a shield will benefit the shield and the person bearing the shield actively, if simply carried only the shield itself gains benefit of the ward.
A charm remains in place until defeated or until the mage that cast it no longer retains the charm in mind. A charm may function to protect against all attacks from a specific type of creature and will impact all attacks mundane and magical made by that being.
Charms are defensive spells that are in place when you need them.

A mantra aids a caster in achieving and sustaining a state of mind. Mantra allow access to specific magics and special subsets of magical effects without the mantra itself. Some spells will not function if one does not have a mantra in mind. Mantras also allow one to stretch the fabric of the magical crafts to enhance, extend, and reshape spells.

Possible relative power of Formulae, Charms, and Mantras
Formulae for scrolls should likely be the same level as that of the spell being scribed due to the nature of scroll use.
Formulae for potions should probably be a level or two higher then the normal spell level.
Weak single use charms of no duration should be of the same or possibly one level higher. More effective or durable charms should be 2 or more level greater.

Definitely have to think up a some good examples like The Witch's Kiss  (A charm vs charm person), Distillation of the invisible ink (Invisibility scroll).


  1. Really cool ideas! I particularly like the charms. I always felt Contingency really captured my idea of how wizards should be, but was do high level that pcs never got to use it. Love to ree some examples, especially mantras, I don't think I really get what they're about.

    1. Mantra of the lofty breeze. Level 2.
      with this mantra in mind any spell of 1st or 2nd level has it's range increased by 50%.

      Resonance of the akashic focus. Level 4.
      With this mantra in mind one is allowed to continually concentrate on a spell of 3rd level or less normally requiring concentration and engage or fall victim to situations that would otherwise violate concentration. .