I’m thinking about the question of magic in my MG hack SPQM, an ancient mediterranean cultures like Rome, Greece, fenicians and so on. I have already decided that spirits exist, I’m too much in love with the idea of communicating with one’s forefather and the forefather helping or not helping their living relatives. Also I like the idea of the roman ghosts.
Now that’s some sort of magic and I also like the idea of much of the magic from those old times since it’s kind of voodoo-like in some aspects and quite low-key and not ‘‘the regular fantasy magic’’ but on the other hand I like a historical world without magic.
In our last session the patrol lured away a ‘‘ghost’’ who haunted them and they also had to decide if they should stop and help the ghost or hurry on with their mission and just lure away the ‘‘ghost’’. Now, having a ceremony to lure a way a ghost is some kind of magic so I once again started to think about it.
What do you think? What’s the pros and cons of having magic? In this case low-key sympathetic magic handling stuff like affecting people to fall in love with you or someone else, having bad luck in business, getting help from your forefathers, getting your forefathers to make it bad for your competitor, getting your competitor lose his support from the forefathers, amulets for having a less risky and less painful birth and stuff like that.
A very simple - low key, minimal hacking, likely balanced solution - would be to invent the Magician (or Wizard, Witch or whatever) trait. The trait is used in exactly the same way as all the other traits. The player gets to describe how he is subtly helping his efforts through the use of magic. He can also hinder himself by describing how his unnatural ability has drained him or caused other mice to be wary of him.
Edit: Combine this with Ghost-wise to devise a solution to the ghost problem or Magic Trinket-wise to create +1D tools for delivering a baby (Healer skill?) and the players can get access to those kinds of situations.
It might be worth adding a factor to Loremouse to communicate with spirits.
I’m reading AD 500 right now, and I dig what you’re getting at with the low key magic. “Magic”, as it’s used in this history seems to be a skill somewhere between Oratory, Acting and Deceiver - druids (the few that remain), abbots, hermits, priests of not-quite-defunct Roman cults to scare off raiders, and even bards use to ensure payment from the patron. I could see this skill being used in a fighting conflict as a Maneuver action, but otherwise it would only be used where Oratory or Deceiver could be used.
Hmmm, traits and wises for the magic seems a nice way since it’s almost always is done to aid in a ‘‘normal’’ action via amulets, wax dolls in lead coffins and so on. I think that I might want to have a few traits like sibylla, amulet maker and the like. The base skill will always be a ‘‘normal’’ skill. The trait thing fits in nicely since I already have ‘‘nobiles’’ and ‘‘freedman’’ as traits. The only problem is:
What skill should I base curses on? Using an amulet for less risky birth could be used with Healer but if you cast a curse on someone?
Using Loremouse to communicate with the non-mice spirits was a good one, thanks.
I believe that perhaps Deceiver for hexing - since it is a way of manipulating others in a negative fashion.
Or perhaps, maybe a simpler solution, have the ‘Occult’ skill. It might not even be magic, just superstition but it works out of belief and fear. It might actually be magical and shrouded in mystery - whatever it is, it inhabits the realms of that which is not known and that, above all, can make anything seen magical.
I would probably use it more as a crafting skill, kinda like Armorer makes weapons that Fighter or Hunter use.
If someone with Occult makes an amulet for delivering a baby, then the healer could have that as the right tool and get the +1D.
Maybe hexing someone was a (maybe one time) penalty to one type of action or even skill (kinda like a “wrong tools for the job”), with a dark foreboding by whoever casts it.
“Your loved ones will one day shy away from you, they will know the truth and want no word with your kind”. -1 penalty to Circles for an important test, for example.
Just throwing the idea out there, I quite like the concept of low key magic as spoken in this thread.
I like the idea of using social skills for magic, but from the perspective of making deals with spirits. Either persuading them why you are worthy of their help, tricking them, or threatening to banish them. So maybe persuader and/or deceiver, with curses being versus the target will, or even against the spirits will.
Also, as cursing some one with -1d is pretty powerful, and dealing with spirits is always presented as a tricky, risky endeavor, maybe a unique condition could apply to failed curse. Maybe the spirits are offended, and curse the insolent magician instead.
I’d say a fairly normal effect of a failed curse would be that its effect hits the Caster. In any case I’d say an attack that powerful would have to be played out as a full conflict. With the looser getting hit with a condition. Compromise could either reduce the severity of the condition or impose a condition on the caster as well.
Perhaps a skill along the lines of Alchemy could work (plus, this could limit the skill to real world applications of ‘magic’; that is, magic that is actually rooted in science, thus eliminating PC reach for ‘fantastical’ use of the skill):
(off the top of my head)
Complexity: simple, challenging, difficult
Materials: common, uncommon, rare, very rare
Effect: superficial, modify, alter (this could start at 2 instead of 1)
Breadth: one, group, area
Use: one, multiple
I would select at least three to reflect the innate difficulty (a higher average # of success needed) for using such a skill, regardless of what you actually name it.