I was thinking about how to make a world in which there was a lot of common, domestic, low-powered magic, and although I really don’t have enough experience with BW yet to make this kind of an edit, I couldn’t help myself and I ended up writing a sub-system. My main idea is to make it so that characters without the Gifted trait can cast spells, but it takes a lot of time, knowledge, and resources. Here’s the idea:
Most mages never open the sorcery skill proper. Instead they may spend two skill points to open School Training for a particular school of magic. This allows them to make Sorcery tests, FoRKing skills from that school, even though they don’t have a sorcery exponent. Such tests are made with an effective Sorcery of B0, but Sorcery can never advance in this way unless the caster has the Gifted trait. If a mage has multiple school trainings they may only draw on one at a time for each specific Sorcery test.
Each school of magic has three associated skills. These generally consist of a skill that represents the source of power for the mage, such as Demonology or Astrology; a skill that represents the physical activity undergone to activate the spell, like Circination or Dance; and a skill that represents a complementary set of knowledge or practices, like Folklore or Obscure History. The example schools that I’ll use are Scholastic Magic (Astrology, Calligraphy, Symbology), Hedge Magic (Spirit-Wise, Sing, Folklore), and Infernal Rites (Demonology, Ritual, Obscure History). The kinds of spells provided by a school might be limited - for instance, if Alchemy is the activity skill, then it would make sense to make a powder which mimics the effect of Fire Breath, but it would be less suited than, say, Hedge Magic to casting a spell like Weather Worker. These limits are flexible, though - if you think you should be able to make fumes which change the weather or sing a song which produces a lash of fire, go for it.
In addition to dice granted by FoRKing school skills, a mage may make use of special tools and materials to achieve their desired effects. An Ob 1 resources test grants +1D to one Sorcery test, an Ob 3 test grants +2D and an Ob 5 test grants +3D. The materials must relate to the school, e.g. special inks for Scholastic Magic, blood of an imp for Infernal Rites, or access to a place of power for Hedge Magic.
A mage may also work carefully, patiently, quickly as per the rules for skill tests. Anyone who has opened a skill in the mage’s school of magic may help with the test. Sorcery tests made in this way take a number of hours equal to the obstacle of the spell to be cast. Spells with an obstacle in the form X^ take X hours to cast. Failed tests cause a DoF roll for failure results as per normal sorcery, but they do not cause tax.
Spells can be learned as per usual, but for most mages it makes more sense to use spell books. Spell books cost half the resource points of the full spell in character creation, and in play it requires an Ob 3 resources test to find a book for a common spell and an Ob 4 resources test for a rare spell (extremely rare spells cannot be found using simple resources tests). Such books cannot be used for normal sorcery tests, but they can be used to learn spells following the usual rules for such an endeavour.
A mage may attempt to add a new skill to one of her schools, thereby increasing the number of FoRKing dice available to her. Each skill currently in the school must be tested against an obstacle equal to 10 - the exponent of the skill to be added. Each successful test means that those two skills can be used together in a sorcery test, but a failed test means that those two skills may never contribute FoRK dice to the same sorcery test. The obstacle is decreased by one if the mage has School Training in a school that contains the skill to be added, and helping dice may be granted by a mage who has already added the new skill to the school.
For instance, say a Scholastic Mage wants to use her knowledge of Circination in her magic. If she has a Circination exponent of six, she has to test her Astrology, Calligraphy, and Symbology against Ob 4. If she succeeds the Astrology and Calligraphy tests, but fails the Symbology test, she may FoRK Circination, Astrology, and Calligraphy or Symbology, Astrology, and Calligraphy into her future sorcery tests. If she succeeds all three rolls, then she may FoRK all four into her future sorcery tests. She can give two dice of help to any other Scholastic Mage adding Circination to their school, since she has a Circination exponent over five.
Abstractions can be cast, but they must be distilled first, using a special distillation process. Instead of testing sorcery at each stage of distillation, the skills of the school must be used. The skill that represents the complementary knowledge is tested first, then the skill that represents the spell-casting activity, then the skill that represents the source of power. At each step, the other two skills can be FoRKed.
For instance, if our Scholastic Mage wanted to create a spell to demolish buildings, she would first choose the facets: Earth, Destroy, Presence, Instantaneous, Presence. She first spends three months researching the symbols that might allow her to destroy a earthen structure, testing Symbology (FoRKing Calligraphy and Astrology) against Ob 3 and, if she is successful, distilling Earth-Destroyer into an Ob 2 facet. She might then spend a few weeks practicing the particular methods of calligraphy that would cause these symbols to affect something the size of the building, testing Calligraphy (FoRKing Symbology and Astrology) against Ob 4, distilling Presence-Presence into an Ob 2 facet. Then, combining this with the Instantaneous duration, she would test Astrology (FoRKing Symbology and Calligraphy) against Ob 4, and, if she was successful, she would understand the particular relation of the symbols to the positions of the stars, and the spell would be finalized into an Ob 2 spell. She could then cast the spell whenever she wished, and pen it into spell books. She could not have cast the spell before it was finalised.
It should be possible to use this system with most of the kinds of magic found in the Magic Burner. What do people think of it? How would it work in play?