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Spellcasting is only one of several magic systems in Sagatafl. A character can use many other kinds of magic, without ever having learned Spells.

Spells come in 6 levels, 1st level (Cantrips) to 6th level (Wonders), and 2 types, called Spells and Greater Spells. Greater Spells cannot be 1st level, making for a total of 11 levels of Spells (Spells 1st to 6th level, Greater Spells 2nd to 6th level)

The term non-Greater Spell is sometimes used, especially in this article, but otherwise, when the term Spell is used alone, it covers Spells and Greater Spells, and when the terms Spell and Greater Spell are both used in the same paragraph or subsection, Spell refers only to non-Greater Spells. In all cases it should be obvious from context.


Spells vs Greater Spells

A Greater Spell and a Spell of the same level should be equally powerful, but with the Greater Spell being more flexible.

For instance, the Control Earth II Spell, which is a Greater Spell, can do a great many things to the element of earth (including stone, sand and ceramics), and each of those many effects has its own separate non-Greater Spell: Shape Earth, Purify Earth, Extrude Earth, Create Earth, Reinforce Earth, Destroy Earth, Weaken Earth, and so forth.

Likewise, for Illusion Magic, the five Greater Spell, Illusion I to Illusion V, are super-flexible, giving a number of Build Points that the caster is free to spend as he wishes on various effects. In contrast to this there are many non-Greater Illusion Spells, but for all of them the Build Points have been pre-spent, to create such spells as Invisibility II, Silence III and Quiet Invisibility I, with the only variable parameter being that if the Spell is to affect a larger target, its Duration is reduced.

Sometimes a magical effect can nly be had via Greater Spells, because it is thought by The Designer that it should be "controlled", and would be ued too often as a mere Spell.

Drawbacks of Greater Spells

  • Harder to learn, costing more Skill Points, especially for higher level versions
  • Takes more Pages when writte down, e.g. in books intended to teach Spells
  • Much harder to invent
  • More time-consuming to cast, requiring twice as much Progress to complete, so on average more casting roll cycles must be used
  • The consequences of Fumbling a Greater Spell are worse, as an additional positive modifier is added to the Spell Fumble Otcome roll
  • It Costs more Essence to Invest a Greater Spell in an item than a same-grade Spell here are fewer base Charges, and if the Activation Roll Fumbles, there's a positive modifier to the Activation Fumble Outcome Roll

Reasons to use Greater Spells

Greater Spells are more flexible. Greater Spells of Duration, rather than those with an instantaneous effect or similar, are particularly flexible, because for as long as, e.g., a Control Earth II Greater Spell is running, it can be used in different ways from Round to Round. This is in contrast to a Shape Earth II Spell or a Destroy Earth II Spell, which can each do only one thing, so if you want a different effect, you must cast a second Spell, preferably after cancelling the first Spell.

Tactically one can also be less predictable. If one is deduced as casing a Destroy Earth Spell, by the opposition, then they can take a qualified guess at what one will use the Spell for, but if one is deduced at casting a Control Earth Greater Spell, then the opposition cannot guess precisely what the intent it, since the Greater Spell can do a great many different things, and can be used for very different purposes from Round to Round.

For the purpose of Investing Spells into magic items, Greater Spell versions are more flexible, and as soon as a Greater Spell splits into more than 4 non-Greater Spells, it costs less Essence to just Invest the one Greater Spell, than to Invest each and every non-Greater Spell in order for the item to be able to re-create all the effects of the one Greater Spell.

Some characters also specialize heavily in only one or two Spells, which is then pretty much always Greater Spells. Illusion IV, or the combination of Illusion III and V, are popular choices, as is any of the medium-or-higher level Control Element Greater Spells, e.g. Control Earth IV, Control Air V or Control Fire III. The magic system further supports this via Mysteries for Spell Specialization, and single-Spell Focus Enchantments, and of course every character's privilege of having every Skill he has, including Spell Realm Skills, specialized in a single thing, which in the case of a Spell Realm Skill can be any one Spell, Greater or non-Greater.

There are a few cases where one-trick ponies make sense for non-Greater Spells, such as a medium-or-higher level Fire Bolt Spell, or maybe an Air Shield Spell for a character paranoid about being turned into a pincushion by enemy archers, but... it's a bit stereotypical, and will not be much fun for a player in the long run, if it is the core of the character concept.

Weather Magic Spells are another option, although much more suitable for settles characters than for adventurers. They have not been created yet, but most likely the Control Weather Spells will be Greater Spells, and be well suited for a single-Greater Spell specialized character, e.g. Weather Control III or IV.

Likewise the Blight Spells from Horror Magic, make for good single-Spell specialized NPCs, if the setting has an official job position as Blighters, as in the Magocracy of Bretagne in the Ärth setting.

Reason to use non-Greater Spells

Sometimes, they get the job done just fine. For higher Spell levels, Greater Spells costs lot of SPS to learn, compared to non-Greater Spells. They're faster to cast, and one suffers less on a Fumble. Also, sometimes it doesn't hurt much that the opposition can guess that one is preparing to barberque them with a high-level Fire Bolt Spell; it may even be amusing to see them cower in fear. For Investments, non-Greater Spells also often work fine, not costing much to Invest and giving a fair number of base Charges, and with the item being less likely to explode in the user's hands on a Fumbled Activation Roll.

Spell grades

The Grade of a Spell denotes its level of power relative to similar named Spells that produce the same effect, for instance Fire Bolt II is more powerful than Fire Bolt I. IT does more damage, and may also have a longer RI.

Likewise, for a Spell that is a subset of a Greater Spell, e.g. Extrude Earth versus Control Earth, one can assume that if the grade is the same, they are equally powerful, although the Greater Spell version (Control Earth) will be more flexible - it can extrude Earth but can also do many other things.

General stats for Spells and Greater Spells

Insert here a table listing some general stats for Spells, based on level and whether they're non-Greater or Greater.

  • SP cost to learn (remember, Greaters go up in cost by a factor of x3 per levle, non-Greater only by a factor of x2.5 IIRC)
  • Fumble Outcome Roll modifier (raw modifier, on top of this goes an additional modifier for Fumbles worse than F-3, and for Pushing, and so forth)
  • Pages required in Spell Study Text (should probably progress more aggressively than SP cost to learn, since texts are non-interactive learning)
  • Progress needed to complete (standard 2,4,8,16,32,64, and simply doubled for Greater Spells, starting at 8 for GSL2).
  • Base RD (starting at 7, ending at 12. Same RD for Greater as for non-Greater; they're not that much harder)

(Note, these stats are already mstly determined. It's not a design issue. I just need to find them (made harder by still not being able to access my email archive), although the Spell Fumbl modifiers might change, and I haven't thought about Page "cost" yet.)

Please note

Spells and Greater Spells are completely analogous to Item Abilities and Greater Item Abilities.

Spell level is often abreviated SLx for Spells and GSLx for Greater Spells,where x is a number from 1 to 6 (2 to 6 for Greater Spells).


Empty for now

The world

It is a very interesting question whether most world denizens, e.g. in the Ärth setting, recognizes the existence of Greater Spells as a phenomenon separate from non-Greater Spells.

They certainly recognize the fact that all Spells are not equally easy to cast. It is obvious to any spellcaster that some Spells are harder than others. Take longer (on average) to cast, are more challenging, and hurt more when Fumbled. That much is abundantly clear.

If told to compare a specific 2nd level Spell they know with a different-Realm 4th level Spell that they also know, any such caster would unfallingly say that the 4th level Spell is more difficult. Ask the same with a 2nd and 3rd level Spell, and perhaps 95% would say the 3rd level one is harder, 4.9% perhaps would say they are equally hard, and perhaps a remainder of 0.1% would say the 3rd level Spell is easier to than the 2nd level Spell.

There might perhaps be a tendency to refer to Greater Spells as "complex spells" in-character. And at the same time to higher level Spells as being "greater" than lower level Spells. But for the sake of easy play, this should usually be avoided.

World impact

The Ärth setting

Talk about how this trait appears and functions in the Ärth historical fantasy setting.

Design Notes

Moved into separate article: Design Notes for the Spell system

Quick mini-glossary

SL2 means a 2nd level non-Greater Spell.
GSL4 means a 4th level Greater Spell.
AL3 means a 3rd level Item Ability (analogous to a Spell, but cannot be cast by a character, only an item; see Investment).
GAL5 means a 5th level Greater Item Ability (analogous to a Gr. Spell, as above).

Progress is the gradual accumulation of points towards completing a task, such as an attempt to cast a Spell or Greater Spell. See Task for the general rules on Tasks, and see Spellcasting for the ways in which casting a Spell differs from other Tasks.
Investment is an Enchantment that enables an item to cast a Spell, Greater Spell, Item Ablity or Greater Ability, with a base number of charges per time unit, depending on the level of the Spell or Item Ability, and whether it is a Greater or non-Greater Spell or Item Ability.
Activation Roll is a roll that is required to activate an Investment. It may cost one or several Charges, whether successful or not, or may result in an unpleasant outcome known as an Activation Fumble. Investment Levels can be spent to make the Investment activate faster, or to make it more safer, or give more charges per time unit, and to improve the Investment in several other ways. This is explained in the article on Investments.
Fumble in this context means an Abortive Fumble during a Spellcasting Cycle, or a Fumble on an Activation Roll to cast a Spell, Greater Spell, Item Ability or Greater Item Ability that has been Invested in an Item. Specifically, Minor Fumbles (F-2) do not lead to Spell Fumble (or Item Activation) Outcome Rolls.

See also

Include links here, to other articles that are highly pertinent to the subhject matter of this one. Remember
linebreaks before or after (but not both!). link

Table to use

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