Alternative Sorcery System

In this system, the Sorcery skill is used to learn and abstract spells. It also opens the casting skills:

(1) Alteration: Spells that change the physical form, substance, property, or probability of an Item or actIon.
Examples: Binding, Falcon Skin, Witch Key

(2) Conjuration: Spells that create or cause to appear any creature, being, or thing (not covered by Summoning or Spirit Binding skIlls).
Examples: Minor Maker, Spirit Servant, Bilious Smoke.

(3) Divination: Spells that provide insight or information otherwise unattainable.
Examples: Low Speech, Magesense, Wisdom of the Ancients.

(4) Destruction: Spells that act as weapons in combat, doing damage directly to their targets.
Examples: Shards, Fire Fan, White Fire.

(5) Illusion: Spells that influence the mind or perception of others.
Examples: Arcane Kindness, Chameleon, Force of Will.

(6) Mysticism: Spells that attack or affect the spirit or magical forces through control, tax, or enhancement.
Examples: Blessed Hands, Eldrich Shield, Emperor’s Hand.

These skill are learned with the sorcery skill in burning and open at that level (a B4 Sorcery will grant you a B4 in all spell casting skills in character burning) they then are treated as seperate skills in play.

This system (hack) keeps sorcery from advancing so quickly without requiring a ton of added skill points to be spent in burning on new spell casting skills. The sorcery skill is still needed for learning new spells and spell abstractions and distillations, so it isn’t diminished in that respect.
Casting Skills make magic more specifc (like weapon skills and elven magic) and I don’t really see any major rule breaks here.

Feed back and opinions are greatly appreciated

I feel like it might be a better idea to use Sorcery as an attribute, perhaps? That way, learning a new school requires you to make Beginner’s Luck tests, and the various Sorcery schools open at half the root. Otherwise, I can see players piling plenty of tests into raw Sorcery before opening any spellcasting skills, just because opening a spellcasting skill at the same root as the base stat really rewards getting that skill up. Or am I getting that wrong? It definitely seems like it’d make Sorcery into a “god stat”, to borrow the World of Darkness term.

I guess what I could go for is more detail. How do you learn new casting skills in play? How do you advance Sorcery in play? Is there any way to learn by trial and error?

What is it that you want to achieve with this hack? Knowing where you want to get to could give others a point of reference for advice. It looks to me like you are wanting more versatility in your wizards casting abilities. If so, you should check out Art Magic in the Magic Burner (p70). I find that Art Magic is much more flexible, and useful in a wider array of scenes, than the standard Sorcery system with it’s limited (yet more powerful) spell selections.

The “Casting Skills” open automatically when you open Sorcery. They are used in place of Sorcery for casting their respective spells. You do not buy them as individual skills but you use these aspects of sorcery to cast spells (destruction, illusion, alteration, ect.) They open with the same points that you put into sorcery.

Standard sorcery tends to get a lot of play both in and out of combat and so, tends to grow faster than other skills. By splitting the sorcery skill into academic (sorcery) and casting (alteration, conjuration, destruction, divination, illusion, and mysticism) it keeps sorcery from growing too fast and also tends to define the mages by their actions.

Ah! That makes sense. So whether the skill is opened in character creation or in play, you get the skills at that level for each type of sorcery, and advance them separately.

This reminds me of one of the hacks in the Magic Burner, but I don’t remember specifically which one. I like it.

Ah, that’s not problem I’ve ever experienced. I can see where that could be problematic. Judicious Gm use of “say yes” could help with some of that. Also, after B5, it starts to become a somewhat self limiting problem, as you will need Difficult and Challenging tests to advance. Admittedly, open ended Sorcery is not as self limiting as normal skills, but the player will still have to set themselves up to potentially fail in order to advance (and that is where the fun is to be had, right?)

At higher levels of sorcery you can find (and abstract) higher obstacle spells, not to mention the weapon disadvantages if you loose an engagement test in Fight! (which then adds to your spell obstacle). I believe that most mage like characters would be burned with a B4 or B5 sorcery skill which would then transfer into the same for each of their casting skills so that you could come in well practiced in all forms of magic if you spent a lot of game time using destruction spells your mastery of that kind of magic would grow much faster than the divination that you never use or illusion you occasionally dable in.

I really like the fact that you’d have mages who were defined by their style of casting.

Most of you guys have been around BW a lot longer than I have (two years this October) does anyone see any potential problems with this hack?

I don’t think that we can just “say yes” when it comes down to sorcery (in any form) as there is always a chance for things to go wrong (horribly wrong). Too many “traitors” can turn what should have been a slam dunk spell into a summoned Deity! (One mage accidentally ruined his villages harvest festival with a sudden shower of stones when his Wyrd Light spell suffered a Garbled Transmission).

You can totally Say Yes to Sorcery. I do it all the time when people are trying to cast spells for no good reason. Especially during Practicals. No going out into the desert to practice casting Rain of Fire by yourself!

Going off by yourself to cast spells in the desert (even if they are practicals) sounds like someone is just begging for an adventure to happen (no support when you accidentally summon something nasty) and problems in practicals can effect the fInal outcome of the learned spell, and all casting of practicals must be game legitimate (no setting around your tower setting the couch on fire).

Even during down-time practice I would require the rolls to be made for practicals, just as I would for resources, research, or whatever skill(s) were in primary use in down time (just like the Get a Job section). Success and failure spin the storyline in different directions, providing advantages and complications accordingly.

Going off on your own to practice spell casting and accidentally summoning something you can’t handle is the plot of The Wizard of Earthsea

Eh. I feel like trying to rely on the possibility of spell failure is weak sauce. There’s nothing at stake prior to failing the test, right? When I think “game legitimate,” I think shit’s already going down when you’re casting. If you’re off by yourself, burning down saguaro with Rain of Fire, I’d just Say Yes. But, as always, YMMV.

Sure, if you’re in what’s considered a safe environment, doing something mundane without any relevance to the storyline, I doubt that it would be considered “game legitimate”, although it should be able to be counted as “sorcery” skill training time. (I put sorcery in quotations due to the nature of this thread, which would count practice time in accordance to which sorcerous skill you were working on at the time).

My point was that using ‘Say Yes’ with regard to Sorcery is totally fine. Your original contention was that you couldn’t due to the rules regarding failed casting, so Sorcery advanced too quickly compared to other skills.

Okay, I think I see what, you were saying.
I tend to not say yes when there are possibilities of failure causing complications, and as I apply the same philosophy across the board with all player actions, it counts the same in sorcery as in swordmanship, cooking, foraging or with any other skill. Standard sorcery is a single skill that gets used more often than most as it is the sorcerers bread and butter-all purpose skill.
Where others use a shield, mages can cast a spell.
Where others ride a horse, mages can cast a spell.
Where others draw a blade, mages can cast a spell.
Where others build a fire, mages can cast a spell
Where others would pick a lock, mages can cast a spell.

In just those five examples, sorcery is getting quite the work out, being the answer to every problem with a variety of spell obstacles that can be varied even further by use of quickly, carefully, patiently, as well as positioning, abstractions, and enchanted items.
Using the “casting skills” keeps skill development for mages from becoming a runaway horse, it also kets mages benefit from casting a variety of spells in a single scene as they would be testing more than one skill they could log more thn one test per scene (3 Socery test? Log the highest. An Alteration, an Illusion, and a Destruction test? Log each one.)

Magic is limited more than anything else by scarcity of RP and thus spells and by the brutality of learning new ones. A wizard can in theory be better at everything than everyone else, but in practice I’ve never seen this come anywhere close to true using base sorcery rules. Art magic, maybe, but not the BWG rules.

Depending on what spells you use, how you cast them, and what variables are involved.
We do allow Abstractions and Distillations so tacking an extra facet onto a standard spell (for game legitimate reasons) can change the spell obstacle and casting time. Using a variable obstacle spell like Strength of the Ox (where the spell obstacle is based on the stat being enhanced) allows you to get a lot of advancements from a few well chosen spells and facets (if Abstractions are allowed)