Chronicles of Calelira: Entry Five
Basics of Spellcasting
(May 4, 2019)
Now that I've explained sapience and how crystallum provides the juice for both life and magical happenings, let's get into those magical happenings and why some have it and others don't.
The problem the original Calelira had with spells was how the mechanisms for how it all worked were never really defined. Some people were mages, some weren't, spells were just kind of a thing you did and they happened, and you could learn more with spellbooks somehow, despite us never discussing what was actually in them. Basically, /shrug. It was kind of a mess and more than a little bland.
Spells being the fantasy cliche they are, I wanted to spin them in a unique way, like I try to do with every fantasy element I play with. A big point of emphasis in the new Calelira has been on motion, movement, action—and mages are active, dammit, not passive.
The new spell system comes down to two main elements: a mage's internal rhythm and timing gestures and movements to that rhythm. Yeah, it's dancing, I guess, but do hear me out.
Magic-capable sapients have something of a spiritual heartbeat; it's different for every mage, and it just about never stops. For some, it's a slow, steady pulse, easy to catch and slow to exhaust. Others have an anxious, pounding rhythm that can do a lot real quick, but is harder to time spells to and exhausts the mage much faster if the beat gets rushed.
A mage needs to time both their physical movements and thoughts to this pulse to successfully cast a spell. A conscious decision to cast, say, a Flash spell starts in the mind, and the mental "push" of the spell down to the fingertips needs to be timed with both the internal pulse and the jerky movements of that Flash spell. If a spell is timed incorrectly, the mage is likely to either hurt themselves or stumble.
If any of you were in marching band, imagine losing the beat for a moment; that feeling of confusion is similar to what a mage experiences when he's thrown off his internal rhythm. This is why part of a mage's training is on concentration and being able to block out distractions long enough to get a spell off, and the best way to counter a mage is to try and fuck with his sense of timing.
Adding to this, a mage needs to be careful not to exhaust and wear down the quality of their internal crystallum supply, which is what powers the spells. Push yourself too far, and you're likely to collapse as your body shuts down to prevent spirit slip from occuring. You'll feel the burn and strain long before you get to that point, but some don't take the hint.
The neat thing about using this system of timed gestures is that one can chain together different movements with the potential for spells to crosstalk and affect one another. This mostly comes into play with the weakest Destruction spells, a topic relating to spellcrafting that'll get its own Chronicles entry.
Naturally, different movements and gestures will create different spells. The five schools of spells (Destruction, Rejuvenation, Illusion, Conjuration, and Divination, and roughly ordered by difficulty) are grouped not just by effect, but by the overall shape of the gestures of the spells within.
- Destruction: The simplest school, and one concerning elemental magic and things going boom. Fire, ice, and lightning spells are Destruction's domain, each with three distinct levels of damage (and potentially other effects—again, saving that for spellcrafting). Motions consist of a lot of jerks and punches.
- Rejuvenation: Healing and protection, both physical and elemental. For healers and walls with parties to protect, this is a must, though I'm sure most magical folk can at least heal some minor wounds, if crystallum water isn't handy. Motions for this school consist of a lot of swirls and sweeps.
- Illusion: My personal favorite class (my narratorsona is an illusionist). These guys play head games, and not always entirely honorable ones either. Certainly, if you enjoy buffing party members with insane courage or watching others squirm and cry in fear, it'll be yours too. Movements are angular, and slides and weird shit come into play with some of the heavier spells.
- Conjuration: The most difficult "normal" school and the one that concerns summoning alteregos, familiars, spectral weaponry, and all that good stuff. Takes a mage with some real internal strength to summon a spectral crossbow and keep it usable for prolonged periods, but it's worth it. Conjuration motions involve a lot of boxy, "traced" movements.
- Divination: This school's not much like the others. Diviners are magical folk only capable of being diviners, detecting traps and talking to narrators and other such weirdness. Diviners are totally incapable of normal magic, thanks to a nice biological mutation that prevents them from having an internal rhythm at all. As a result, Divination is pretty much entirely mental and requires a good section of explanation all on its own. (In a similar vein, Divination is off-limits to even normal mages—you're born with it or you aren't).
I'm still codifying the specifics of each school, as is to be expected with a Chronicles topic. Still, I can already think of a bunch of applications for these new mechanics, including an improved spellcrafting system, potentially cultural events and festivals throughout Calelira where magic is almost something of a performance art, a better idea of what mage training might look like, and so on.
It also means fat bitches need not apply. Stay healthy. Hopefully the next entry won't take two months.
Your humble narrator,