In the last part, I explained how the world’s Central Adventuring Area, which should totally be a term. What already is a term discussed in RPG circles is “blank spots”. Like when someone explain they want a world with blank spots where they can fill in their own content. Or explicitly in Dungeon World, when it says: Draw maps and leave blanks.
Now, when you make your own campaign world, “leaving blanks” is just a caveat not to over plan beforehand. The PCs after all are only in one place at a time, so you likely won’t need it. When you make a campaign world for other people to use, I actually doubt that leaving blanks is good enough. Because those people took to your world because it offers some content and themes they enjoy. And therefore they will likely want to add content in a way that fits existing material. So when you publish your own game world, you might want to provide an explicit formula that people may use to slot in their ideas.
I will develop such a formula for making magic in the Rebellion setting, then use it. Because as I explained in the first post, magic here is per community. A typical community the PCs might visit has some magic going on. So we need to insert more communities. Of course, some communities might lack magic completely or have lost it. That’s a statement as well. So this is it:
- The magic a person wields only ever does specific things. Magic as whole might do pretty much anything, but no single person or group can. So what does this magic do?
- All magic originated with the gods. A manifest god warps reality just by being there, but the gods are gone. So for the magic that remains, decide what god originated it from.
- How did people get this magic? Of course, the god might have handed it out willingly back in the day. Or maybe it was unintentional. Maybe it’s the result of some weird interaction. (Some examples of that below.)
- How does an individual use this magic? What actions do they need to perform? In general there these approaches can serve as a baseline. Several can apply at the same time.
- The magic is inborn. Only people with right genetics can do it.
- The magic is acquired. You need personally do something to get it first.
- The magic must be regularly harvested in some manner from a location touched by the divine.
- You must perform some action whenever you use it. Usually either some prayer to the god, even if they are not around anymore, or something physical.
- How does the community use this magic? What customs have evolved from it?
- How do they interact with other community? Do they trade their magic? Keep it secret? Weaponize it to conquer their neighbors?
These questions need not be answered in order. For the magics I did, I often worked backwards. So let’s do it. Remember the big storm that arose from the battlefield where several gods died, as well as how Father Sky really wanted to save his supplicants?
Stormcaller is the name for people who stand in the way of the flesh-rending storm and shout out their devotion to Father Sky. It is said that if their heart is pure they will receive the power of healing themselves from injuries. Cynic people suggest that people looking like the majority population of the fallen empire have a better chance at survival.
Effects: Stormcallers have super regeneration. They heal from cuts, stabs and burns. Limbs do not regrow but can be reattached. They do not get sick from normal diseases and have an increased life expactancy. Decapitation and starving will kill them. Those who have called upon the Storm are infertile and cannot bear children.
Society: Calling at the Storm is generally considered a desparate act. Some groups in the Devastation have a tradition of sending people into the storm. They are mostly dressed in white, the color of mourning. They are usually males, because femals are considered too important. Of course, there are always foolhardy outsiders of any kind who think standing in front of a storm is their best bet in life.
One group in the Devastation travels after the storm. Coming into their compounds, you will see displays silvery figures that move in artistic ways. It is the same material they use as struts in their tents when traveling, or their collapsible weapons. Rain Metal.
To make this fabulous substance you need three things:
- Water from the Great Storm
- Jars to collect the water made from special earths.
- A Rain Smith to sing at it daily for one full month.
The Rain Smiths form a Line, a hereditary group with certain powers. Or to be more precise, two competing Lines, who each have settled one of the locations where the jars can be made. The third known spot is in a particularly nasty area within the Devastation.
The largely unknown origin of the Rain Smiths is a group of messengers in the empire who carried official pronouncements to the often capricious gods. The clay for jars was used in imperial seals. The divine essence in the rain basically still reacts to the messengers carrying a seal.
Effects: Freshly made Rain Metal is a silvery liquid. It has several effects.
- It reacts to emotions with whirls and wobbles and when you put in a hand, it becomes a rather effective lie detector. At least against people who do have not trained against it.
- Food placed in jar of liquid rain metal doesn’t go bad. Although the taste may change somewhat.
- A Rain Smith can sing the liquid into certain specific forms making the repeating displays of art or weapons that can be collapsed and extended even by people who are not of the Line.
- Swallowing rain metal is one of the less painful ways of soul scraping, at least if you have Rain Smith on hand to get it back out. Soul scraped cannot use any kind of magic and seem less empathetic, but become invisible to augury and spirits and cannot be effected by most magic that works on living things. Giving someone rain metal to drink and keeping it in, is a particularly nasty form of torture, though.
Society: The two families of Rain Smiths are influential factions within theDdevastation. They have become rich from trade and each have a number of mercenaries at their compounds. Especially collapsible weapons have become a status symbol in the south and are traded at a high markup.
So this is it for now. Two examples of how to magic might look in this world. I will surely post some more. See you next time, where I’ll talk a bit about ways of using tropes.