In a previous post, I talked about an alternative magic system for D&D where, instead of a fixed spell list, player characters could come up with spell effects on the fly, based on found items. Now Trey’s post on using a flavor of magic closer to what’s described in medieval literature got me back to this idea.
To reiterate what the Spellbinding system is all about, it’s a system whereby player characters build their spells based on associations with a found object. For example, an eagle feather might let you summon an eagle, talk to an eagle, or grow eagle’s wings and fly, whichever is more useful to you at the moment. Now for my new ideas on this:
Spell foci must be gathered for use, and because by default the focus is consumed in the casting, there’s always a need to gather more.
Player characters may find Numinous objects, which grant bonuses to the spellcasting because they are of an innately magical nature.
For example, an eagle’s feather gives me a normal casting roll to do any of the above effects; but a feather from Gwaihir Windlord gives me a big fat Tolkienic Bonus for the same effects! Now if you want an even bigger bonus, try questing for a feather from Thorondor himself.
Starting Spell Foci
GMs should work with players to determine what their starting spell foci are. To give new, low-level characters some versatility I’d suggest Level + 3 foci, to be chosen from a list of items provided by the GM, or worked out based on character background. (Level + INT modifier also works)
These first foci are presumed consumable; players can have a permanent focus, but it costs 2 slots.
Let’s say I want to play a disciple of Radagast the Brown, a wizard who had an affinity with birds: given this theme, the GM lets me pick 4 consumable foci related to birds, or 1 permanent focus and 2 consumable foci related to birds, since I’m starting at first level.
I pick an eagle’s feather, which I associate with combat uses, a crow’s feather for wise and wily scouting or trickery, a plover feather because plovers have this neat trick of decoying predators away from their nests, and I think I can associate this with a spell for escape, and finally an owl’s feather, for finding things in the dark and maybe fighting rodents.