Malazan-like Magic System

This is an old thread discussing this one:

Since I didn’t want to do some necromancy, I’m opening this thread, a little more specified.

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT want to design a magic system that works EXACTLY the same as magic do in the books. I only am looking for something that feels a little like that.

So, first of all, the people around the table will have to do some worldbuilding: they have to choose the “Elements” of the Warrens/Paths that there are in the world their characters are. In the novels it has a lot to do with the culture itself, but with metaphysical things also, so the decision on how metaphysically this Elements exist in the world is all upon the table-group.

For simplicity’s sake, here is a little list of what a Warren/Path is:
[li]A world with its own inhabitants -the Demons.
[/li][li]An expression of a force of nature, whatever is “nature” in the setting.
[/li][li]A source of a particular type of energy.
[/li][li]An alignment in the Tarot-like deck that functions as a structure to order the different Elements of the setting.

And here’s a list of possible Elements, extracted from the books:
[/li][li]Land (as dirt, dust, soft earth)
[/li][li]Shadow & Illusion
[/li][li]Stone (as rock, metal, hard earth)

So, next step: each Path, as a pseudo-metaphysical Realm of Existence, has some structure and hierarchy of power. This is modelled in “Houses”, like noble ones. The overall charges/posts/roles are:
[/li][li](Sometimes, also:) Keeper

For each role, occupied or not, there is one card in the Deck. The Roles (let’s call them this way) can be Occupied by some god-like being, some mortal with a pact (inadvertently or not) with the other Roles of the House, or some extraordinary being that has a lot of power. You, as a group, just have to place a bunch of names divided in two or three Houses, the High Houses. It’s not that important for the magic system, but may be so in the future, for the politics derived from this hierarchy are so fun, :B.

There may be also some Roles (some Cards) that are Unaligned, like, say, Twins of Luck, Mother Earth, the Master of the Deck, the Obelisk, whatever those Cards mean in your setting.

Obviously, you can change, delete and add Roles as you see fit, after all, it is your Setting.

If you are bothered by this, just write the names of the High Houses (three, four, five at most) and the Roles that are occupied right at the start of your campaign, maybe the Roles that were occupied just before but not anymore, marking the change in the setting.

Thus far, we have done the World Bilding part of this Magic System.

Now, to the meaty part:

Gifted is re-written to add:

So, Astrology would be used to read the Deck the group has just created (at least as a short list with 7 names on it). I guess it could be used to establish things in the Big Picture, like “High House Shadow is struggling with unaligned Luck, and the presence of the Knight of Dark will be determining in this struggle”, or to ask questions and get one extra answer per extra success or something. You could ask to the future or to the present Big Picture. Whatever, xD.


Each character with Gifted have access to this skill:

So, notes of synthesis:

  • There is one Sorcery skill for each Element, so one for each Path & Warren.
  • Those Sorcery skills also works as Death Art for the Path of Death, for example, Enchanting (thematic for each one), Spirit Binding (with thematic spirits for each one), and Summoning (also kind of thematic, maybe). You still need Circination & Bargaining to deal with spirits and demons, but there is no different Circination & Bargaining skills for each Path or Warren, just those skills that work for every one.
  • You will have to re-work the Elements of the spells to adjust them to your Setting, maybe, and thus the Facets corresponding to them. Also, decide if Sorcery and Art Magic both, or just one of them, will work.

Finally, a note of interest:

You may have, like the books, Paths or Warrens that are Elder, which structures are Holds rather than Houses, and which Element is broader than the one in the Younger Path/House. Like, the Hold of Light fathering the Houses of Light and Fire. You can even have a complete mythology, like, “First there was de Darkness and the Dragons, but the Dragons are now not more. Darkness mothered Light, and then they fought, and from that war was born Shadow, the point where Light and Darkness overlap; then, Shadow was broken and their Demons run away to this world, the Realm where we live and die. And they became mortal. And blablabla.”

Have fun, :).