Common Magic Revisited

Hey guys,

I’m starting a new game soon with the Common Magic system I outlined here and talked more about here. The original game I made that for sort of fizzled out before it got going, but this one looks like it will be more successful. I’m pretty excited, and so I’m planning way ahead :¬D I was thinking about Common Magic in more detail, so I thought I’d present the system here along with some questions and requests for advice.

Schools of magic:
All schools of magic will use the Art Magic rules, or maybe the Enchanting rules for some if my assistant GM feels like reading up on those ones. However, instead of rolling sorcery, three skills are chosen in character burning to represent the school of magic under which the character was trained. The idiom of magic is described based on these three skills - for instance, Astrology for understanding the flow of celestial power, Symbology to know which symbols to use to capture it, and Calligraphy to actually produce the symbols. Or, to use a more unusual example - Alchemy to produce special substances which form the basis of an Insect Husbandry test to feed these substances to bees, turning them into magical catalysts which can be controlled using Sing.

To give players more flexibility in producing their schools, I will allow them to replace the now-useless Sorcery skill on sorcerous lifepaths with any skill from the Character Burner, subject to GM veto (no making a school of magic with Persuasion, Observation, and Sword). I can’t see anything problematic with this, but I know messing around with the lifepaths can be a bad idea, so advice would be welcome.

Casting spells:
To actually cast a spell takes hours equal to the Ob (1 hour for vs spells?). This is one big linked test, testing all the skills in the school against the Ob of the spell. When the test is finished, the spell is cast. Failures don’t result in tax, but as suggested in the original Common Magic thread, when Common Magic goes wrong, it goes badly wrong…

This, of course, gives a whole bunch of tests for one spell. I hope the long time required will prevent test spamming - as will the severe failure consequences (thinks like getting hacked at by your own Death Axe, or being unable to fully reverse a Transformation). Are these sufficient controls?

In these rules, you don’t need to be Gifted to use magic - the power does not come from you, but rather from the stars, bees, etc. I’m considering allowing a player with the Gifted trait on one of her lifepaths to swap it for any supernatural trait worth 5pts or lower. This is because the Common Magic casting times mean that spells can only be produced with a lot of downtime and preparation - Gifted would be a nice way to give a permanent and spontaneous magical feel to a mage character. The trait has to be related to the school of magic - the Bee Witch, for instance, might get Low Speech with insects.

This is the one I’m most worried about, it definitely counts as tampering with the lifepaths.

Divination using the stars doesn’t work with the setting (the stars are the cities of the angels, so Astrology tells you about the activities of the Angels rather than terrestrial affairs), so I’m going to turn Astrology into a general Divination skill, for which the player can design the idiom. I don’t foresee anything problematic here.

Religious magic:
Religious magic involves writing contracts as angels - it works the same as above, but with the Summoning rules and with Empyrealia, Bureaucracy, and Calligraphy, and angels are more into very elaborate and difficult forms of Tribute than anything else. This is supposed to be a powerful form of magic to which the PCs will most likely not have access.

Thanks in advance for any advice.