Adventure Trove: Magic
What mid to high fantasy campaign setting would be complete without a discussion on magic? Very few in fact. Even when downplayed or kept out of the hands of players, magic often exists within most fantasy worlds. This is a truism of the worlds I designed which prompted me to work on Fantasy Adventures, so Adventure Trove must support it as well. In this world there are four forms of magical power, and three of those are accessible to player characters. The one which isn’t accessible is best referred to as Spiritual Might. This is the power which grants wishes, makes magical priests possible and so on. It is the province of demons, saints, gods and spirits, and not something mortal or even nigh immortal characters have. The other three powers are best termed as external, natural and learned. In other games, external is recognizable as Divine magic, and learned magic is best recognized as Arcane magic.
Let’s start with the most familiar one of the three and explain how it works in this game system: Arcane magic, or Sorcery. Sorcery is a focused, academic skill which means that it can be taken multiple times because nobody can learn every facet and subtopic related to it. So characters learn one path of many when they take the Sorcery skill. It also means that it is open to everyone, pursuant to the availability of tomes, or tutors. Unlike many games where the only person who can manipulate arcane forces is a single class of individual, or variants thereof, anybody who dedicates the time to mastering the skill can become a sorcerer.
Of course, since only study separates a sorcerer from a mundane, most sorcerers guard their secrets. Granted, someone who takes the Hedge-Wizard or Sorcerer profession gets a big leg up. Without Sorcery as a core skill, and a focus on both Intellect and Reason (the attribute which governs the skill’s advancement and the aspect tied to the skill’s direct use), a character will have an expensive path to mastery.
Next lets look at divine magic, which I call pact magic. In Adventure Trove, the pact adept forges a connection to an otherworldly plane or higher entity for power. In many cases this is a god or demon, making the character a mortal advocate or paragon of the entity and for all intents and purposes a priest of their ways. However, characters with pacts can also fit other archetypes just as easily. Pact adepts have two ways to call upon supernatural aid, they can ask for help from the entity, or formless mass of power they are tied to, or they can perform rites and use the power of their connection to charge the ‘spell.’ This means that priest types can perform a limited number of divine spells, if they are skilled enough at the base skill each depends upon. There are 3 skills, and right now 3 rites per skill. This is more or less the safe path, the player pretty much knows what he or she will get if they have enough aspect and skill ranks to regularly meet their TNs.
Asking for miracles however is more like a carefully structured interaction test, and even if it succeeds there is no telling how the higher power will manifest the response to the request. The main reason for this is that there is a difference between the magic priests practice, and faith. Faith is its own Trait, with its own mechanical benefits. Pact Magic, or in some cases sorcery learned by priests, is just a path to magical power in the name of the character’s beliefs. Thus the Missionary, Monk and Priest templates suggest Pact Adept as a recommended trait, but none of them give it to the character. To be fair, the templates don’t have Faith as a core trait either, the character’s status as faithful and their capability to wield mystic power are not related at all.
The last category of magic is birthright magic, and these practitioners are called natural mages. This is because each of these people is tied, at birth, to one of the six natural elements which make up the Seven Realms (the world I designed to which these rules apply) These are the White, Black, Green, Blue, Red, and Yellow Elements which express as Light, Darkness, Plants, Water, Fire and Earth. Each character with a Birthright gains a small passive ability at character creation, and has the option to gain more passive and active abilities through traits.
Whether the character develops himself to deepen this bond or not is up to them. Those who delve further into their birthright and select new talents as they advance can eventually gain power which rivals that of the Pact Adept’s rites and some of the lesser spells in a Sorcerer’s arsenal. However, their power comes from learning how to use this connection, not from study or from meditation. In keeping with another facet of this theme, many creatures, including humanoids the players can choose as their own background, have birthrights.
For example, when a character says that a Troll is a dark creature, they mean it is literally a creature with a Black Birthright. The same of moonfolk being termed light creatures, dryads being termed green beings, and kobolds being earth creatures. Their entire people conform to this birthright, and whether they develop it or not, they will always possess this tie to one facet of nature.