Friday, December 14, 2012

Spins on Elemental Magic

Many months ago, when I first brought up the issue of magic in the land of Kimatarthi, I mentioned that I wanted there to be multiple means to the same end. I would like players to have significant narrative power to use magic however they want to, even though there are existing ways to cast spells. So while the players will be able to tinker with various casting methods, I needed a base to start from. Enter the Classical Elements.

There are a ton of settings that use the Classical Elements as a basis for magic from D&D to GURPS to Codex Alera (which is past due to be made into a role-playing game). The cool thing is that, just as in real ancient history, there are different ways of interpreting the elements.

Classical Greek
The system that most people are familiar with are the Greek elements: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. There are derivations from that, but it all comes down to the four. You can find this throughout Dungeons and Dragons and all of its spin-offs.

Classical Indian
Interestingly, classical Hindu mythology came to a similar conclusion, but added one more: Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Ether. It's not so far off from the classical Greek quintessence, but including ether as a basic element should appeal to many (particularly our gang of Ethernauts). I could totally see how  or folks that want to mix a steampunk or weird science or pseudo-Enlightenment kind of vibe into a campaign might be drawn to an Ether element. Can you imagine summoning an Ether Elemental? What would that do?

What about Consciousness as an Element? Here it's represented as a King.

Classical Chinese
Another system that identifies five elements is Chinese: Fire, Earth, Water, Wood, Metal. I guess air was dropped, as it is not a substance. Interestingly enough, Jim Butcher throws Air back into the mix in Codex Alera. This kicks much ass.

Classical Bhuddism
There is a concept of seven centers of vital energy (chakras) in Bhuddism and Hinduism that is similar to the elements. These are identified as Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Ether/Sound, Light/Dark, Time/Space. This is a really cool concept. I can totally picture a Tech Level 11 Mage slinging around hexes that twist space-time.

That also brings up the point that in all of these mythologies, the elements are tied to different emotions, temperaments, body parts, planets, etc. My basic point is that there are so many different ways to parse our reality, why can't elemental magic draw upon any of those categories? What about a mage that draws upon actual elements? You know... a Carbon Mage.

Well they can. Play my game.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kriegspiel Online

I wanted to point people to Kriegspiel.

It's not the one with a bunch of Prussians plotting how to kick assess across Europe. It's the one made by the French Marxist filmmaker. In many ways this makes it equally awesome.

It is a chess-like game, but more elaborate. You can read all about the concept and development of the game at the link above.  More importantly, you can download the software that will allow you to play without having to do lots of addition. It's a fun game and a great way to spend some hours playing against opponents online or just mucking about on your own.

Go download (it's free) and enjoy!