Magic-Users and the Lore Skill

I love LotFP's Weird Magic system. Vaginas Are Magic! changed the way I think about spells, and the way my players do too: they’re very, very thoughtful about the circumstances in which they want to use it and terrified of the possibility of spell failure. VAM's spells and the ones I’ve written in that style are grand in scale, horrific in effect, and dangerous in execution. The system’s greatest strength is that they’re bizarre, situational, and reflective of an unkind, fractured, deadly universe.

In a way, it’s also its greatest weakness. What if you need a more “standard” spell effect? Should a Magic-User have Magic Missile as well as Wicked Fields Of Calm? Will a character want to cast Holy Flames of the Fire Spitter if they can cast Fireball instead? How do more traditional spellcaster abilities like identifying, dispelling and enchanting work?

To answer the first and second questions, well, I say that most traditional spells pale in comparison to weird magic. To the third: there should be a way to do some of these classic functions, but it should be somewhat risky, unpredictable, and unique to each caster.Thus, the Lore skill.

A personal favorite and very evocative of an occult ritual.

All Magic-Users gain the skill when they reach level 2. The skill, like others, has a 1 in 6 chance of success. The skill improves by 1 point for every 3 levels the Magic-User gains (2 at level 5, 3 at level 8, and so on). It may be used once per day per point of the skill. At level 1, the character is able to attempt Basic Use of the Lore skill. At level 2 and above, the character gains access to the Expert Use of the skill and creation of cantrips unique to that character.

Using The Skill

Basic Use: A player may attempt to access their knowledge of the occult and mysterious by making a skill roll. If the player desires, they may ask the Referee a number of questions equal to their skill level about the topic or allow the Ref to simply tell them what they learn. The knowledge the character gains will be cryptic, but helpful.

When attempting Basic Use of the skill, the Magic-User adds their Intelligence modifier to their chance of success. For example, a Magic-User with a level 1 Lore skill and a +1 Intelligence modifier would have a 2 in 6 chance of success.

Expert Use: Each time the character gains a skill level the player and the Ref collaborate to create a cantrip, adding to the Magic-User’s repertoire. These cantrips are unique and can never be duplicated with the Lore skill by another character, as they are the result of each Magic-User’s own skill, experience, and natural talents. As a general rule, these cantrips should be temporary, have simple effects and not be full-fledged spells. A single sentence or short paragraph should suffice. They may always produce the same effect, or strength and duration may vary by the degree of success or caster's level (lower skill rolls being better) at the Ref's discretion.

Examples of cantrips:
  • Bind a minor spirit to a door to hold it and act as an alarm 
  • Conceal the dweomer of a magical object 
  • Erase one minute of a low-intelligence creature’s memory 
  • Render small solid objects lighter than air 
  • Create an illusory duplicate of an item or creature 
  • Make telepathic contact with a familiar over long distances 
  • Converse with the spirits or energies inhabiting an item to determine its powers 
  • Transfer the Magic-User’s consciousness into an inanimate object 
  • Become temporarily synaesthetic
Here is a table of example cantrips to spur creativity or flesh out NPC Magic-Users

Comments

  1. I really enjoy this idea because it addresses one of the thoughts I had about the new spell system. Also, this is a great way to give magic-users a useful ability and making them more magical (but still different from all the other magic using madmen).

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!
      The idea for all the class-exclusive skills I'm making is that it will allow the character to customize their character in a way that not only will be unique to that class, but to the character. If any unique cantrips or combat maneuvers (from the Fighter equivalent) jump out at you, let me know!

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