I’ve been reading volume 1 (of 13…) of Thordike’s “Magic and the experimental sciences during the first thirteen centuries of our age” and astrology gets a lot of mentions. I know that there is a past thread dealing with PC and various types of divinations. What if astrology or augury were used as a sort of circles test to find someone (in this case a star or tea leaf) who had the answer the character seeked? Or should they really be better off primarily as FoRKs which is how I gather than are assumed to be used i.e. FoRK in astrology when fighting a dual of wits because you figured out an auspicious day for your success.
I have seen Astrology Forked into stats that almost feel abusive to me. What I have done is if a player is wanting to use Astrology as a fork for things outside of sorcery, which even then I am a stickler on, I make them state when they are making the prediction that it will be useful. This would require a skill roll to be able to earn that as a FoRK for that event.
An example of this is the players feel that they need a little extra leverage before going to see the Red Duke of Hornsby so the Astrologer says that they should wait for the moon to be waning and Mercury to be in alignment with Jupiter which will be a fortnight before they approach him. Rolls Dice Then with this predetermined I would allow FoRK’ing. I am just not a huge fan of people using astrology as a gimme +1d
If you wanted to use Astrology to do things like deciding what days would be good for certain activities I suggest the character work his astrology into his BITs. That way astrology becomes a deciding factor in his life and could be a justifiably FoRK to almost anything. I would suggest that Astrology FoRK dice be rolled and tracked separately as it is open-ended both ways ( pages 257-258 ), or just allow it to be used as a linked test that is rolled prior to commiting to the DoW as the astrologist would have already read the signs beforehand (Determine the auspices of beginning an enterprise: Ob3).
It would be interesting to see a character evolve his BITs about Astrology into a Faith in Astrology, thus gaining the Believer Character Trait. Then the Faithful Die Trait (Que “Angel Summoner”) until he eventually ascends into the heavens as a new star or joins the constellation of his order.
Why not develop a whole Astrology based magic system?
kind of spit balling what Luke said about making your own magic system for these rules are pretty interesting, a combination of astrology, astronomy, geometry and of course the stuff that lives between the stars cause Elder Ones should make appearances in every game. :-p could make for some entertaining play and when things go wrong, which they will it will make the lives of other people around them that much more entertaining.
Interestingly, The new torchbearer spell sailor’s friend conjures ideas about how astrology could be used in a game with no overt magic/gifted sorcerers. As in, the more magical the skill is, the less reliance on words of power are required. ¯_(ツ)_/¯. It’s definitely something I’m thinking a lot about right now. If anyone hasn’t read thorndike or his “the place of magic in the intellectual history of Europe” they are in for a treat. The first to volumes of the former and the latter are now available through Amazon on kindle (the books are hundreds of dollars each in print).
It really is inspiring me to play a BW game set in 1-5th century Europe with at least one character as an apprentice to some famous mathematician like Galen, Pliny, or Ptolomy.
Long Ago, In Another Game Far, Far Away… I played a “Master of Fate” a magic class the GM had put together based upon Tarot cards (using D&D spells).
A lot of the spells (Readings) were Divination types (easily duplicated in BWG as wises and Dt’s like Weather Sense, Dreamer, and such) others were based on the Major and Minor Arcana.
Each card had its own spell associated with its meaning.
I would be interesting if each star sign gave those who are gifted access to spells within its own house or element, especially as astrology dice explode both ways, thus simulating the idea of a reversed fate or card (the Tarot is based upon astrological signs), using the ones to alter the rings of the wheel of magic like an abstraction failure instead of a spell failure so that even with enough successes to cast your spell could go sideways
So. Thinking out loud here: To the ancients astrology and alchemy could do things due to the “occult” virtues inherent in the item, be it the liver of an eagle or the pearl in an oyster. To quote Thomas Aquinas, “as for the magicians, in their feats they make use of herbs reality and other physical bodies of words usually in the form of affirmed invocations supplications and abjuration’s they also employ figures and characters sacrifices and protestations images and writes carefully observed times constellations and other considerations.”
- occult virtues of natural things plants, animal parts, metals, gems.
- efficacious compounding of the above via alchemy/herbalism.
- occult virtues of the stars/astrology on the above and upon men.
- sometimes accompanied by words of power and ritual.
There is one more aspect of medieval magic I would like some help with. I’ll Paraphrase Aquinas again: he will or not admit that the magician and his materials are sufficient cause of the magic he also denies that certain men are specially endowed with magic powers by the stars at their birth (reminds me of the gifted trait) or that the influence of the constellations can be controlled to perform particular feats of magic. Demons in his opinion really perform the magic. words, figures, spells are all mirror signs to them; the poor magician is there dupe.
That sounds an awful lot like Ron Edwards “Sorcerer” RPG to me and it appeals to me a lot more than the direction Ars Magica took of turning the Patristic Latin Christian summa philosophae of Aristotelian/Hermetic theory of the four elements and transforming them into spellbooks. Ars Magica took an anachronistic approach of magicians as rationalist experimenters of science in a very Jack Vance way, which worked for Vance because Dying Earth is set in the future as science-fantasy. I would like, however, to be more in the times as those who lived there saw it. How would “Sorcerer” fit into BW? Has anyone done a hack? Would Orc rituals work? Does the magic burner have any insight?
Heavy reliance upon Alchemy, astrology, herbalism skills plus the option for Socratic daemons cum Christian demons via Ron Edwards would, I think, make for a very good magic system for burning up a medieval game with minimal anachronisms.