August 26, 2012

Tribes of Bronze: Nature of Magic

cloaker_smlThere are two forms of magic on the world of Melkor, Mysticism and Sorcery, and they are closely related. Mysticism develops the innate psychic powers, allowing one to touch others’ minds, create an astral projection, and most importantly, to contact beings from other dimensions. This last is the foundation of Sorcery, which is the art of contacting, summoning and compelling alien beings from other dimensions to do the sorcerer’s bidding.

Unfortunately for mankind, all the beings sorcerers have contacted so far have been utterly abhuman in nature, taking joy only in violence, fear and torment; thus all such beings are termed demons. Sorcery relies very heavily on knowledge unearthed from Ancient sources, as it seems Sorcery was extensively practiced in many previous civilizations. Ancient records and grimoires provide valuable information about the various demon types and how to contact them, and what astrological signs to watch for in determining which dimensions are easier or harder to reach at any time.

Magic is rare, and because people violently fear it and its practitioners, is usually practiced in great secrecy thus making it seem even rarer. Sorcery is illegal in nearly all kingdoms, and Mysticism usually allowed only to priests. Getting into magic is a slippery slope, for once a Mystic begins opening his mind to the other dimensions he also opens a door for demons to either attack him or tempt him into practicing Sorcery as well. Few can resist the seemingly easy power Sorcery offers.

Sorcerers also know a terrible truth about the gods of Melkor: they know the gods don’t exist. There are no true gods, no good gods, in this world or any of the other dimensions sorcerers have reached, and any that seem real are merely demons in disguise.

Sorcery Game Mechanics
Summoning a demon requires that you win a Quick Contest vs. the demon.  Victory means it comes to the earthly plane and is willing to do your bidding.  Anything else means it ignores or resists your call, and on a critical failure, it may decide to turn against you. 

Ritualized summoning requires extensive preparations which you must describe to the GM.  The main benefit of ritualized summoning is that you get three tries to obtain a Victory.

Demon Types
I’ve still to set the demon types’ names in stone, but these are what I’ve been thinking of so far.  Nearly all magical effects require the agency of demons.  I want magic in Tribes of Bronze to be really ghastly in nature, thus the designs:

Illusion Demons
Can use their powers to distort perceptions over a  place, object, creature or person.

Reshaper Demons
Demons that can temporarily possess an indicated victim (this will require a Contest of course), and warp the victim’s body with unnatural modifications.  The modifications may be positive or negative, but they will always look unnatural and at least mildly horrifying or sickening. (This replaces polymorph-type spells in the setting)

Melder Demons
Melder demons can possess the bodies of dying humans or animals, filling them with new life and warping them in unnatural ways to make the body stronger for combat.  The Melder then uses the body to inflict pain and terror by attacking and consuming people.

Reanimator Demon
Reanimators possess corpses and reanimate them with a sick, horrid semblance of life. The Reanimator can stay in the corpse until the corpse is totally destroyed, say by fire, or it is banished.  (This replaces all kinds of undead creation spells in the setting)

Whisperer Demon
Whisperers are weak but malicious manipulators, who can be summoned and interrogated for their preternatural knowledge.  Whisperers will deliberately use the opportunity to tempt, provoke, and otherwise manipulate the summoner into causing as much trouble as possible.

Screamer Demon
Screamer-type demons inflict terror and madness with their eerie vocalizations. 

Primordial Demon
A gigantic, slimey, shapeless, multi-eyed and multi-tentacled horror that likes to play with its food. Its favorite dish of course is  people.  The go-to for every sorcerer with a private dungeon to guard …

Brute Demons
Demons that can manifest with solid bodies and fight effectively, delighting as they do in blood and violence.

Mysticism Spells/Powers
For Mysticism, I want a selection of psychic powers that feel like they could really come from the mystic’s mind alone, but avoid the science-fiction-ey feel of standard FRPG psionics.  I’ll be working out the rationales for why these things work the way they do later, but for now:

Oneiric Whispers
The mystic can enter the dreams of a sleeping person and hold a conversation with that person’s mind.  When the person awakens, he will remember the message and believe the mystic talked to him in a dream.  This spell requires some form of psychic link between you and the subject.

Oneiric Visitation/Oneiric Assault
A development from Oneiric Whispers, the mystic now enters the dreaming person’s mind and gets to play with it.  The caster can trigger sensations, such that the dreamer believes he or she is physically interacting with him.  Beware, though, many wizards have died from attempting this on a barbarian’s main squeeze …

Silent Howl
The mystic sends a purely mental howl straight into the mind of a victim, causing confusion and terror. Basically a mind-blast, but with the requisite horror trappings for a true sword and sorcery feel.

Astral Projection
The mystic can send out an astral form, which can fly and pass through solid barriers. Doing so, however, opens him up to assault from other dimensions. The character’s body remains in a catatonic state during this time, and so must be protected from all threats.

Astral Guide
You may not only project yourself in astral form, you can aid others in doing so. Without an Astral Guide, non-mystics cannot do astral  projection.

Leech Life
Your character can psychically leech life energy by touch. When you do so, your character’s injuries heal by the same amount that your victim loses life force.


  1. Thanks :-) I need to make sure that PC sorcerers get enough to do in the game, so still tweaking and refining ...


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