Dicember 2021 – arcane

Spellcasting always has a cost, right? — whether it’s “spell slots” or a risk of intangible injury or increasing fatigue or chipping off one’s soul bit by bit, there’s always something. And as long as there’s something, enterprising sorcerers (and just about anyone else tossing magic around here and there and everywhere) will look for ways around that cost.

Offering up some options for arcane catalysts is one way to do that in a game — and liven up treasure troves and/or siphon away hoarded funds in the process.

To use a catalyst, which will power a spell for you:

– the catalyst must be in-hand or at least deliberately touched by the caster
– 1d4 measures or discrete objects are required per spell (or per spell level, if desired and if the system uses spell levels or equivalent)
– if not a discrete object (a rose, a stone, etc), one measure usually roughly equals one pennyweight

Of course, there’s no doubt some special quality about these already special materials that makes a sample a suitable catalyst; there’s also no doubt that spellslingers will pay handsomely for them … or resort to more underhanded means.

Some sample catalysts:

01. phoenix egg-myrrh
02. angel’s tears
03. halo shard
04. tongue of skyflame
05. cobra-knight’s pearl
06. bloodamber
07. nugget of lunargent
08. blue rose of summer
09. alicorn sliver
10. distillate of chaos
11. voidspine
12. viridian maple key
13. nugget of solaurum
14. helljade coin
15. dragonsbreath
16. imperial bone
17. elemental carbuncle
18. sanctified skull-moss
19. draconitias stone
20. golden fleece

Dicember 2021 – slow

Sometimes a spell needs cast, but the target is nowhere around. Or they moved out of range (that jerk), or they were never actually really in range to begin with (dammit) but you just know they need that cure spell/fireball/dark hex dropped on their head and they needed it yesterday.

There’s a way to get around that!

The downside is that it’s not the nice swift casting many sorcerers, wyches and swordmages are used to. Not by a long shot.

The upside is that not only can you whittle that loooong timeframe down, you can also choose to boost the spell’s power the same way — by throwing bodies and treasure at the problem. Sort of like everything else in the world, when you think about it.

The basic premise is:

– You need a catalyst to fuel such extended spellcasting.
– You need to know where your target is (scrying magic is totally allowable).
– If you don’t also know your target well, you need a physical sample or a closely-associated object to draw the connection to the target.
– Any casting will take one hour, minimum. For every 10 miles away, add another hour.
– Anyone, including the target, who can sense magical energies will notice the buildup halfway through the process — and some may have the ability to target you, back through the building spell.

However, there are mitigating circumstances to make this slightly less painful:

– For every extra caster taking part in the ritual, either the total time may be lowered by one hour, or the spell (or the test against it) can be given a one-increment boost — another effective level’s damage die, if using those, or a save against it is given a -1 penalty, for example.
– Non-casters can help, but each requires an additional catalyst and, on top of that, take 1d3 “damage” to an ability for 24 hrs.
So if you really, really badly want that long-distance spell cast — or just to seriously boost a spell result closer to home — put in the time and give it a shot.

Needed Catalyst

01. dragon’s tear
02. jadetree twig
03. lunargent ingot
04. lock of bloodlord’s hair
05. page of centuries-old manuscript
06. pair of darkwolf teeth
07. shadowmoth cocoon
08. swordsaint’s relic
09. angel’s talon
10. solaurum ingot
11. chain of blue-celestine links
12. consecrated altar-wood

Oh no, the spell was thwarted! What was the cause?

01. Nullmagic zone
02. Circle of countercasting ritualists
03. Sleeping in protective circle inscribed by tusk-wand
04. Was in a holy (or unholy) sanctuary
05. Peach-stone talisman, now charred
06. Angelic intervention
07. Diabolic intervention
08. Pact with a bloodlord
09. Transferred spell to second, willing target
10. Location and/or identity of target was not in fact accurate
11. Purified by salt and rose petals
12. Flaw in catalyst(s) used by ritual

Dicember 2021 – runic

Runes are a collection of small enchantments — or evocations of the power of the world, or bits of spirit knowledge, or however you choose to apply them in your game — that anyone can pick up and learn.

There are no “spell slots” or the equivalent involved, just the knowledge of the rune and the time to prepare it. Once made, a rune may be kept almost indefinitely; however, they certainly aren’t immune to being lost, damaged or erased, or deliberately destroyed. Activating a rune — which requires contact — expends the power of it, but the physical rune may often remain and can be “topped up”.

The number of runes an individual may have prepared depends entirely on their available materials and time. The number of runes which may be used in a day, however, are limited by one’s fortitude and will (i.e. the higher of a character’s applicable attributes — Body and Psyche for Wandering Jewel Moons, Constitution and Wisdom for OSE/The Black Hack/etc — divided by 3).

Some sample runes:

01. Gleam: Limns supernatural things or manifestations in a soft, brief glow
02. Soothe: Calms the nerves, removes fear and lifts fogginess of the mind or heart
03. Mend: Restores a repairable object; think torn clothing
04. Sustain: Nourishes as a good meal and drink does
05. Ignite: Kindles a flame, or grants fire’s warmth
06. Freeze: Induces cold, potentially enough to cause frost
07. Illuminate: Creates light of the power and duration of a candle
08. Communicate: Understand an unknown language until encounter with it ends
09. Hold: Seal a portal or container closed
10. Inspire: Uplifting surge ensures next task will succeed
11. Abjure: Repel specified malignant forces for a dawn-dusk cycle (or reverse)
12. Heal: Banish disease or infection, last injury knits twice as fast

You can give them more interesting names, of course, even simple ones, maybe something like

01. Wyrdrune
02. Heartrune
03. Weaverune
04. Breadrune
05. Flamerune
06. Frostrune
07. Brightrune
08. Speechrune
09. Lockrune
10. Faterune
11. Wardrune
12. Bloodrune

Each rune requires at least two of several possible elements in order to be successfully created; perhaps a specific colour of pigment, a particular addition to that pigment, or a burin or knife or stylus or brush made at least partially from a specific substance. Some may also have a “preferred” material to be placed upon.

It’s not a terrible idea to also design some omni-applicable elements — perhaps suitably unusual or rare — to give out as goals, or simply as a flavour to add.

An example set of associations, using the runes above:

01. seashell; silver; dew; ivory tool
02. applewood; rose; wine; willow tool
03. leather; tawny; dust; oak tool
04. maplewood; green; blood; willow tool
05. jet; orange; ash; iron tool
06. glass; azure; salts; iron tool
07. horn; yellow; wax; oak tool
08. paper; violet; sugar; ivory tool
09. foil; black; resin; iron tool
10. copper; gold; gall; willow tool
11. parchment; red; incense; ivory tool
12. linen; green; marigold; oak tool
* omni-applicable — black rosewood or tree ivory; ultramarine; musk; moonsilver or sungold tool