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    Canonfire :: View topic - Magic Schools
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    Magic Schools
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 10, 2003
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    Sat Mar 09, 2024 7:14 am  
    Magic Schools

    To all,

    I got another article in the queue, and I want to go over my thought process for it while waiting for it to post. One of my personal favorite articles on CF is the series of "Wizards Library" card catalog style references of Greyhawk grimoires written by GVDammerung. He took not only canonical Greyhawk spellbooks but also many generic ones from other sources, gave them a Greyhawk spin, and laid them out in a six part series.

    Part I is available here: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=766&mode=&order=0&thold=0

    These articles, combined with the "Sorcerous Societies of the Flanaess" from Oerth Journal 3, gives a wonderful rich selection of magical information for your spellcasters as well a ton of adventuring hooks.

    In going through the Wizards Library and my issues of Dragon Magazine, I found a couple of grimoires that were left out of the articles. I thought about how I would make them a part of Greyhawk and thus came up with the idea to insert them into the campaign. In the same issue was an article about wizard's guilds and magic training, so I combined all those inspirations to make up and article about six schools of magic throughout the Flanaess. I also just finished reading through the old Codex of Greyhawk on the Internet Archive, and found a couple more examples there.

    You can see the Codex of Greyhawk here: http://web.archive.org/web/20020604005242/http://greyhawk-codex.com/


    Therefore, four of the sources for the schools/grimoires were from Dragon Magazine articles, the other two were from the Codex of Greyhawk, and I used one prominent NPC from the fan module PC4, available on CF in the downloads section.

    So once it gets posted, please let me know what you think and I hope some of you get some use out of it.

    O-D
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 16, 2024 6:21 pm  
    article in the queue

    To all you administrators out there:

    Any word on when the next articles will be posted? This one has been in the hopper for a couple weeks now. No biggie if there are other things going on, just don't want it to be lost in the interwebs.

    O-D
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Wed Mar 20, 2024 3:03 am  

    Sorry, been AWOL for a bit. One just went up, and yours is next on the 28th.
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Mar 20, 2024 3:04 am  

    Sorry, been AWOL for a bit. One just went up, and yours is next on the 28th.
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:15 pm  
    Thanks

    No worries! Thanks for all the work it takes to administer this website!

    O-D
    CF Admin

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    Tue Mar 26, 2024 9:28 am  

    I can't wait to read your article Osmund-Davizid (and the series to which you linked by GVDammerung)! Thanks for sharing it. He was prolific.

    Recently I was looking for a listing of Greyhawk tomes, which I could have sworn that we / CF! had compiled, so your post feels fortuitous, for I've introduced a couple of books in my Hold of the Sea Princes campaign, which occurs in CY 583, and wanted to connect them to GH canon and/or fanon.

    Here is what I've developed for one of them.

    Uhas of Neheli, Elder Swords of the Suel Houses of Keoland (CY 283).

    Uhas of Neheli was a famous historian of the kingdom of Keoland, who was active during the reign of his cousin, King Gillum I (also of House Neheli), who ruled from CY 278–86. (Uhas later obtained infamy for publishing his "secret chronicle" of said kingdom. He was also rumored to have been a sorcerer who rejected the order of the Silent Ones of Keoland.)

    Uhas's Elder Swords of the Suel Houses of Keoland is one of his lesser known works and possibly derivative of an older book, Ye Ancient Swords of the Suloise Empire, to which it refers three times. Elder Swords opens with a brief description of the fall of the Suloise and Baklunish empires under their Twin Cataclysms and then narrates how the Great Suel Houses of Neheli and Rhola, and several lesser houses, fled the doomed Imperium with the aid of the last Suel Mage of Power, Slerotin. (The latter part seems an early version of this legendary history, which Uhas revised in his later Chronicle of Secret Times.)

    The bulk of Elder Swords then tells of various magical swords wielded by the Suel heroes who helped found the kingdom of Keoland, including the legendary sword, Vilharian, which the hero Sellanus, of House Zelrad, wielded during the Great Migrations until he lost it in a duel with Kelanen, the Prince of Swords.

    The book then notes that the sword came to the hands of the Rholan Dukes of Gradsul, who bore it for centuries until it slipped from the hands of King Tavish III into the muck surrounding Westkeep during his doomed siege of that city in CY 453—as he attempted to reimpose Keoish rule over the rebellious "Sea Princes."

    As this final episode occurred several centuries after Uhas's death, and is obviously in another's hand, it seems clear that another must have copied Elder Swords and added this part, yet the book itself seems of ancient provenance and not a modern forgery . . .

    Perhaps by comparing various versions of Elder Swords, one might discern its veracity?
    CF Admin

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    Thu Apr 04, 2024 4:58 pm  

    Osmund-Davizid's recent post prompts me to ask a related (in my mind question): which D&D edition, or other RPG system, in your opinion, "best" represents / structures magic in your Greyhawk campaign?

    Background: over the past four years I returned to DMing a Greyhawk campaign for the first time in many and many a year. I had planned to use Pathfinder 1e, which I had started collecting in 2011, but one of my players felt strongly about wanting to play D&D 5e, so that's what we've used. Although 5e has much to recommend, I have found myself frustrated with the system at various moments and drawn on past editions (e.g., to revise a spell and/or to bring an older edition's spell or magic item into 5e). The more I do this, the more I (sometimes) think that I want to create my own rules by which to structure magic in my campaign. Hence my question, which I assume we all consider from time to time.
    CF Admin

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    Thu Apr 04, 2024 9:31 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Osmund-Davizid's recent post prompts me to ask a related (in my mind question): which D&D edition, or other RPG system, in your opinion, "best" represents / structures magic in your Greyhawk campaign?


    Hmmmm. Well, for my Greyhawk campaigns, I’ve always run them under AD&D 1e (or 3.x while living in CA), so I certainly lean in that general direction.

    That said, Ars Magica remains my favorite RPG magic system, and I’ve used it natively in ArM chronicles, as well as ported it over to use BITD as the magic rules for our Warhammer FRPG campaign as an undergrad (since the Realms of Sorcery rules hadn’t been published yet).

    I haven’t really toyed around with using ArM in Greyhawk*, although doing so in a game set back in time during the heights of the Suloise Mages of Power and the Bakluni Heirophants (which I like better than “simple” Mage-Priests) might be a fun way to play an “Arcane Age”-style Greyhawk campaign….

    Now you’ve got me thinking, Marc ;) :)

    Allan.

    * ArM is not a system that’s balanced for class-based play in the same way D&D is. Magi in ArM are fearsomely powerful in the traditions of Math, Elric, Väinämöinen, Kane, and Doctor Strange. That said, ArM also originated troupe-style play, and I can see this working with some tweaking, and a willing group….
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    CF Admin

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    Fri Apr 05, 2024 9:33 pm  

    Thanks for your sharing your thoughtful reflections Allan. I hope you'll share whatever you develop vis-à-vis an “Arcane Age”-style Greyhawk campaign wherein the PCs are apprentices and initiates to "Suloise Mages of Power and Bakluni Heirophants".

    Most of my fantasy RPGing has been with D&D (although I played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in its first edition (and many years later, briefly, in a later edition), and I played a handful of times in a Middle Earth Role Playing campaign (which I understand derived from Rolemaster).

    Except for BECSMI (and prior versions), I've played all the editions of D&D (very briefly for 4e), but I've never played Ars Magica (although I've picked up several of its books along the years and recently got the 5e core book).

    AD&D 1e was my introduction and set the baseline for the main spell-casting classes—magic-users, illusionists, clerics, and druids.

    I deeply appreciated what 2e did regarding the schools of magic (and kits, oh the kits), which seemed to "centralize" and standardize what 1e accomplished with the proliferation of subclasses, and occasional new classes, in Dragon and elsewhere.

    3e and 3.5e obviously made major changes to the game. Regarding magic-users, perhaps the most obvious, and long-lasting, were the introduction of the Sorcerer (and later the Warlock), along with the proliferation of prestige classes.

    I can't comment much about 4e because I only played a handful of sessions in it—and disliked its "wargamey-ness" too much to continue—but I'm now about four years into a 5e campaign. However, while 5e subclasses abound beyond the core books, I'm now far less inclined to buy new books. Also, it took me a while to understand how Wizards was extending the "core" rule books, since I was used to the clear distinctions of prior editions (and in Pathfinder) between books that focused on expanding the basic rules, versus setting-specific books.

    At this point, I find myself wanting the game system to better distinguish between, and provide distinctive details for, various magical traditions.

    For example, I want to make the Necromancers of Port Toli distinctive and different from, say, the Sea Mages of Gradsul and the "Wizards of the Coast" (per Gary Holian) of Monmurg in ways that go beyond spell selection.

    Similarly, I want to further distinguish between the clerics of various priests. IMC, the PCs knowingly interact most regularly with priestesses of Wee Jas, Osprem, and Lydia, and priests of Xerbo and Nerull. (Unknowingly, they have also interacted with a couple priestesses of Syrul.)

    All's to say, I welcome further ideas regarding how you've made magic distinctive in your campaigns—using whichever edition or game system you've enjoyed.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 11, 2001
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    Sat Apr 06, 2024 11:34 am  

    I started with OD&D back in 75 or so... continued until 3.x and then when 4e came out switched over to PF1e (which I am still using). It provides (to my mind) the most bang for the buck and the most options for players. Is the system perfect? Definitely not, but very robust and still has a HUGE user base.
    CF Admin

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    Thu Apr 11, 2024 7:22 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Thanks for your sharing your thoughtful reflections Allan. I hope you'll share whatever you develop vis-à-vis an “Arcane Age”-style Greyhawk campaign wherein the PCs are apprentices and initiates to "Suloise Mages of Power and Bakluni Heirophants".


    I’ve added it to the “future campaigns to ponder” list, as well as the “fun places to get gated to from Castle Greyhawk” list :)

    mtg wrote:
    I deeply appreciated what 2e did regarding the schools of magic (and kits, oh the kits), which seemed to "centralize" and standardize what 1e accomplished with the proliferation of subclasses, and occasional new classes, in Dragon and elsewhere.

    3e and 3.5e obviously made major changes to the game. Regarding magic-users, perhaps the most obvious, and long-lasting, were the introduction of the Sorcerer (and later the Warlock), along with the proliferation of prestige classes.


    Agreed that those are important, but perhaps even more-importantly in my mind, 3e introduced the meta-magic feats and standardized the types of magical energies employed in spells. That eventually got a bit out of hand, when mixed with the taxonomy of bonus types, but structurally it was a sound foundation that remained well-grounded in the 1e/2e schools of magic (present but not very systematically presented until Charles Olsen's "The Many Types Of Magic" in Dragon #89). Given that Jonathan Tweet was the lead 3e PHB designer, it makes sense that he would layer in elements similar in scope and function to how Ars Magica’s system worked, while still retaining the core rules of D&D’s Vancian magic core system. (The meta-magic feats were also inspired by “Spell Prefixes” in White Wolf Magazine #9; see http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1450203#p1450203 for details if you’re curious).

    mtg wrote:
    At this point, I find myself wanting the game system to better distinguish between, and provide distinctive details for, various magical traditions.

    For example, I want to make the Necromancers of Port Toli distinctive and different from, say, the Sea Mages of Gradsul and the "Wizards of the Coast" (per Gary Holian) of Monmurg in ways that go beyond spell selection.


    I feel like this is where the system flexibility of 1e/2e shines, in that you can add a new class, or a new type of magic, or whatever (Kuntz’s dark druids, Lakofka’s death masters, Pulsipher’s time lords, et al) without risking the destructive unbalancing of the entire system due to it components being so tightly integrated (as with 3e, and my impression is that includes 4e and 5e too).

    mtg wrote:
    Similarly, I want to further distinguish between the clerics of various priests. IMC, the PCs knowingly interact most regularly with priestesses of Wee Jas, Osprem, and Lydia, and priests of Xerbo and Nerull. (Unknowingly, they have also interacted with a couple priestesses of Syrul.)

    All's to say, I welcome further ideas regarding how you've made magic distinctive in your campaigns—using whichever edition or game system you've enjoyed.


    I’ve enjoyed building out and customizing the faiths in a similar way, for both clerics and paladins, and druids to a lesser extent. I’ve added:

    - paladin orders based on variant paladins from Dragon #106 (I cherry-picked the 7 new ones to distill down to 5 core flavors, one for each polar alignment, and one for all Neutrally-aligned paladins); I’m playing a LG paladin of Wee Jas in Bill Siley’s game that has added to my own thinking about her sects and their credos, too
    - I’ve hacked the 1e clerical powers from the Deities & Demigods of Greyhawk articles to change them up to better match their deital portfolios, in my mind anyway: swapping the speedy casting abilities from Wee Jas to Lendor, for example
    - Celestian group ritual magics to mass-send PCs to the Astral Plane (with silver cords)

    Allan.
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    Fri Apr 12, 2024 7:08 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    All's to say, I welcome further ideas regarding how you've made magic distinctive in your campaigns—using whichever edition or game system you've enjoyed.


    Just remembered this other Olson article that might catch your eye: “The Laws of Magic” in Dragon #106.

    Allan.
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    Fri Apr 19, 2024 10:54 pm  

    Thanks for the tips about articles in Dragon #89 and 106. (I think that those were issues I didn't originally collect although the covers are familiar.) Thanks too for the tip about White Wolf #9. I was unfamiliar with its spell prefixes but have begun reviewing your Dragonsfoot forum post and really like the idea.)

    grodog wrote:
    Agreed that those are important, but perhaps even more-importantly in my mind, 3e introduced the meta-magic feats and standardized the types of magical energies employed in spells. That eventually got a bit out of hand, when mixed with the taxonomy of bonus types, but structurally it was a sound foundation that remained well-grounded in the 1e/2e schools of magic (present but not very systematically presented until Charles Olsen's "The Many Types Of Magic" in Dragon #89). Given that Jonathan Tweet was the lead 3e PHB designer, it makes sense that he would layer in elements similar in scope and function to how Ars Magica’s system worked, while still retaining the core rules of D&D’s Vancian magic core system. (The meta-magic feats were also inspired by “Spell Prefixes” in White Wolf Magazine #9; see http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1450203#p1450203 for details if you’re curious).

    AFAIK, 5e mostly "did away with" the metamagic feats of 3e and instead seems to have relegated metamagic to the Sorcerer class, which seems a shame. (In general, 5e turned away from 3e's "feats for everyone, feats for everything" approach.)

    grodog wrote:
    I feel like this is where the system flexibility of 1e/2e shines, in that you can add a new class, or a new type of magic, or whatever (Kuntz’s dark druids, Lakofka’s death masters, Pulsipher’s time lords, et al) without risking the destructive unbalancing of the entire system due to it components being so tightly integrated (as with 3e, and my impression is that includes 4e and 5e too).

    That's really interesting—recalling how fun it was to read a new class in Dragon. 5e "subclasses" are relatively simple variations on the classes and not substantively different the way that 1e subclasses were. Your posts make me think that I should try my hand at crafting a 5e necromancer subclass that does more than the existing "arcane tradition" for necromancy. I might review Lakofka's death master, try to adapt it, and then post my results in the 5e folder.
    CF Admin

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    Sun Apr 21, 2024 9:28 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Thanks for the tips about articles in Dragon #89 and 106. (I think that those were issues I didn't originally collect although the covers are familiar.) Thanks too for the tip about White Wolf #9. I was unfamiliar with its spell prefixes but have begun reviewing your Dragonsfoot forum post and really like the idea.)


    I’m glad they’re proving useful!

    mtg wrote:

    AFAIK, 5e mostly "did away with" the metamagic feats of 3e and instead seems to have relegated metamagic to the Sorcerer class, which seems a shame. (In general, 5e turned away from 3e's "feats for everyone, feats for everything" approach.)


    In the 5e game that Henry sporadically DMs for Ethan and me, I’m playing a fey-origin sorcerer, which has been fun. We’ve developed some uniquely fun progressions, if we ever get to go up in level (we haven’t played since the summer ;) ).

    mtg wrote:
    grodog wrote:
    I feel like this is where the system flexibility of 1e/2e shines, in that you can add a new class, or a new type of magic, or whatever (Kuntz’s dark druids, Lakofka’s death masters, Pulsipher’s time lords, et al) without risking the destructive unbalancing of the entire system due to it components being so tightly integrated (as with 3e, and my impression is that includes 4e and 5e too).

    That's really interesting—recalling how fun it was to read a new class in Dragon. 5e "subclasses" are relatively simple variations on the classes and not substantively different the way that 1e subclasses were. Your posts make me think that I should try my hand at crafting a 5e necromancer subclass that does more than the existing "arcane tradition" for necromancy. I might review Lakofka's death master, try to adapt it, and then post my results in the 5e folder.


    Coincidentally, we did a show about Necromancers and the dark arts of magic tonight, that you may want to check out: https://m.twitch.tv/videos/2126194089

    Some Necromantic resources we discussed included:

    1. Lenard Lakofka’s Death Master in Dragon #76
    2. REF5 Lords of Darkness by Ed Greenwood (and others): http://www.tsrarchive.com/add/add-ref-2e.html (scroll down a bit)
    3. Jon Pickens’ Polyhedron #28 article with new proposed Necromancer specialist mage class and spells
    4. Jon Pickens’ Dominion spells in Poly #27 (builds from Magic Jar)
    5. Lewis Pulsipher’s class in White Dwarf #35: http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2022/04/white-dwarf-issue-35.html

    OSR Necromancers:
    6. My Necromancer class at https://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/temp/The_Necromancer_by_grodog.pdf
    7. Kellri/Scot Hoover’s necromancer in Knockspell #1: https://www.lulu.com/shop/matthew-finch/knockspell-magazine-1/ebook/product-1nvjkngw.html?q=Knockspell&page=1&pageSize=4

    2e
    8. Complete Book of Necromancers: http://www.tsrarchive.com/add/add-dmgr.html (this used to be a freebie download on the WotC site BITD).

    We also wandered into discussing shadow magic and witches too!

    Allan.
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    Mon Apr 22, 2024 7:58 pm  

    Thank you Allan! What a trove!

    I've read the Grognardia review of White Dwarf #35 and downloaded your class. I'll try to watch / listen to your interview though it will likely take me a while to finish it. (I look forward to hearing your discussions of shadow magic and witches too.)

    Of all the sources you mentioned, the only one I obtained originally (i.e., around the time of its publication) was the 2e Complete Book of Necromancers (1995), which I recall being excellent in tone and for an intriguing introduction to the Al-Qadim setting. (I still have my copy and am now highly motivated to reread it.)
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