Thoughts on an Alternate Magic System

Recently, I’ve been thinking of coming up with a game setting with a more science-fantasy feel than the typical D&Dish fantasy world.

One thing I knew I would have to figure out is how “magic” would work. In the context of the setting idea, it really would not matter if it is actually “magic,” super-science, or some combination of the two. In fact a certain degree of ambiguity might be desirable.

So on Thursday night a few things gelled in my brain and I wrote them down before they escaped. This is only a starting set of postulates for how the science-fantasy magic system might work.

1) Long ago, all the magic in the world was gathered and imprisoned into a mountain consisting of a single gargantuan gemstone.

2) The gemstone mountain was shattered in a titanic explosion and countless millions of gem fragments were scattered across the world.

3) Each gem fragment contains a portion of the magic, still bound to the gemstone.

4) “Spellcasters” in the world know how to manipulate the magic in the gemstones.

5) Each time a “spell” is “cast” a fraction of the magic in the gem used by the spellcaster is released back into the world.

6) After a number of “castings” the gem crumbles into dust, when all the stored magic has been released.

7) Gem fragments come in various sizes and types that contain different amounts and forms of magic.

I’m starting to do a bit more thinking of what these starting concepts would mean for how an actual alternate magic system might be constructed, while still bearing some relation to the usual magic system found in D&D and old-school clones.

More to come when I feel it has gelled some more.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on an Alternate Magic System

  1. Seems to make a lot of sense and justifies some of the old D&D rules better. For example, a spellcaster’s spells-per-day may be limited because, at a given skill level, they can only access the power of a gem fragment so often without great risk to themselves. Many possibilities here.

  2. I hadn’t exactly thought of that in those terms, but it is a good point. My main idea is to keep the ambiguity of whether it is actual magic or some ancient super-tech. In effect I’ve got “batteries” that contain the power itself; those who work magic know the rituals, or “spells” to release the power in a controlled fashion.

    Maybe there is some chance of “spell failure” that would drastically increase if a caster tried to use a gem too many times per day (maybe they have some type of meditative discipline, or a psionic power, or something) that might cause the gem fragment to explode in a catastrophic fashion, or risk damage to a mental statistic, or drain experience points, or some other highly undesirable outcome?

    Since there is a limited amount of stored power in each gem, trying to locate more fragments would always be a high priority, as if you don’t have one you can’t cast any spells.

  3. Pingback: Further Thoughts on Science Fantasy Magic | almostoldschool - a D&D RPG blog

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