April 21, 2013

The Sorcerer’s Imperatives

In a previous post, I noted that the sorcerer in the sword and sorcery genre is essentially a terrorist.  To further build up on this idea, and to guide my design of spells and sorcerer characters, I thought of a bunch of ‘imperatives’ that motivate the sorcerers in Tribes of Bronze.


The sorcerers' imperatives are a set of desires common to nearly all sorcerers, and direct the kinds of spells which they research.  The demons summoned by the sorcerers themselves encourage these imperatives, for by the sorcerers' following of them they wreak more chaos upon the world just as the demons desire.

1) Imperative of Dominance
Every sorcerer wants to have power over the rest of mankind.  Spells of dominance compel obedience through fear or through seduction by unholy pleasures.  Such spells are usually of a subtle, secret nature so the sorcerer can wield power without being found out. Some sorcerers, however, like to make open demonstrations of their power so they can rule directly.

Ex: Black Omen
Can only be cast during a solar eclipse, and affects an area of x square miles centered on the caster.  The spell adds to the terrifying effect of the eclipse, so that armies of demons seem to ride across the clouds, hot winds smelling of ash and brimstone sweep the affected area, and all creatures - sentient and not - born in the area within the last few days sicken and die.  The spell is automatically ended when the sun reappears.  This spell is intended to be a bald demonstration of the caster's power, to cow a subject populace or to demoralize an enemy before striking.

2) Imperative of Preservation
Every sorcerer wants  to live forever.  Spells of preservation seek to keep death, age and disease at bay even at the most terrible costs.  The theme of most of these spells is that one's life can only be extended at an unholy price.

Ex: Renewal of the Scaled Ones
The caster enters a deep hibernation, during which his skin becomes scaly and begins to slough off, revealing new, young skin beneath.  During this time all effects of disease and injury are repaired, so that the caster awakens as a youth in perfect health.  Nothing however can wake the caster from this hibernation except its completion.  The spell usually takes a week or so to run its course.

3) Imperative of Cowardice
Every sorcerer values their own life higher than anyone else's; shunning combat as much as possible themselves, sorcerers develop spells to evade attack and increase their minions' chance of victory. 

Ex: Mantle of Darkness
Can only be cast in an enclosed or shadowed space, or at night.  The the caster summons demons to darken a target area, making vision by normal humans impossible.  All sources of light are dimmed to such an extent that they do not aid visibility at all, and yet in the case of flame, do not go out.

4) Imperative of Balefulness
Every sorcerer knows the rest of mankind is against him, and to discourage attack researches spells that will make him seem invincible.  Spells of balefulness are meant to wreak such terror and mayhem that a sorcerer's enemies will regret disturbing him if they ever attack him openly. Thus it’s not enough that a spell can kill, injure or disable an attacker; it must do so in a way that is so gruesome or shocking that it discourages further attack.

Ex: Touch of the Dark Crone
The caster summons a demon to infuse his hand with the power of decay.  Any living being he holds  while the spell is active takes damage as if from a horrible withering disease.

5) Imperative of Knowledge
Every sorcerer wants to know as much of what goes on in the world as possible, to always be abreast of opportunities and threats coming their way.  Spells of knowledge deliver various kinds of information to the sorcerer.

Ex: Listen to the Night Winds
Can only be cast in a place of power, such as an Elder ruin,  between sunset and sunrise.  The caster goes into a semi-conscious trance state.  While in this state, the caster becomes aware of any elements in the world that will have a strong effect on his destiny; approaching enemies, plots against him, major opportunities, and so on.

6) Imperative of Mastery
Every sorcerer believes the way to achieve power is through mastery of the arts and lore of commanding demons; therefore every sorcerer is eternally hungry for new sorcerous knowledge and sorcerous artifacts, and jealous of other sorcerers.  Spells of mastery are the foundation of the sorcerous arts, being the basic spells for dealing with demons.

Ex: Sunder Bonds
If successful, this spell destroys the bond between another sorcerer and that sorcerer's demon servants, including any that have been recently summoned.  Demons whose bonds of service have been severed in this way will no longer obey their old masters, and will likely turn against them.

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