Saturday, September 8, 2012

Magic and Power Sources

I used to think the Harry Dresden books were crap "urban" fantasy cranked out for the cash.  I seem to think that of a lot of fantasy novels published these days.  The problem is that I'm making a snap judgment before ever having read the books - I'm judging them by their covers, and equating old as better in all cases, which is patently wrong in a lot of ways.  There - confession out of the way.

I am happy to say I'm almost through the third of the four Dresden books that I have acquired in the last couple of years.  I am absolutely hooked, and I love the series.  Of course, I'm way out of chronological order at the moment, but they're written in such a way where it doesn't matter so much.  Harry reminds me a lot of myself in many cases - some of the same struggles (family, personality, etc., of course - I don't have mold demons in my car, even though it might smell like it).

One thing I came across while reading Blood Rites gave me one heck of an idea for revising the wizard class for old school and related games.  Look at this passage:

"Supply and demand," I said.  "There are limits to what outside forces can deliver to the mortal world.  Think of the incoming power as water flowing through a pipeline.  If a couple of people are using a rite once every couple of weeks, or every few years, there's no problem pumping in enough magic to make it work.  But if fifty thousand people are trying to use the rite all at once, there isn't enough power in any one place to make it happen.  It just comes out as a little dribble that tastes bad and smells funny."

Murphy nodded, following me.  "So people who have rituals don't want to share them."

I can't remember what blog I read it at, but the blog's author was investigating Vancian magic and why wizards drive a hard bargain on spell trading.  It comes directly from Jack Vance's Dying Earth material.  Between that and the above passage from the Dresden book I'm into at the moment, it inspired me to determine that as with any form of power (electricity, fire, cold, etc.) there has to be a method of generation.  My current version of the wizard is much the same as the core S&W rules with a few tricks up its sleeve.  The rewrite is going to infer some of the above assumptions.  The wizard must decide where he gets his power.  Innately, from a pact, from book-learnin', or even from an item.  Then I'll have to decide if the power source can be severed from the power user at any point.  This may help me in trying to fix the "I'm a first level wizard, just cast my first and only spell, and now I suck read bad" problem.  When I figure it out I'll post it.  Until then, mull this over.  It's a wonderful assumption about the actual "system" of magic as it exists in the game world.

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