THE EIGHT KINDS OF MAGICS
I have attempted through the years to justify a variety of rules that have come from on high. A classic example would be the justification of why a human magic user can't wear armor and cast spells, but an Elven fighter/magic user may. Of course, in 2nd edition AD&D they eventually put a stop to Elven fighter/magic users wearing anything other than Elven chain, but it took them a while to do this. And, in their characteristic manner, they failed to explain why a human mage couldn't also wear Elven chain and cast spells, so it's still a problem. The example aside, there are other rules that require some justification as well, and my attempts to do this have taken the form of creating several varieties of magic.
As yet another aside, I'd like to mention a philosophy of gaming that deals with various game-balancing "rules." We all know many rules are simply written to maintain game-balance. As such they may be freely ignored if you decide game-balance is not in jeopardy after all and the artificial nature of the rule is hard to live with. I did this with the clerics and "edged weapons" rule and the monk and "burning oil" rule as well as a few others. However, when one wishes to maintain a certain level of commonality or similarity between one's world and another DM's, one should play by official rules when ever they are able. This presents us with a "rule fact." That is, the rule is a fact of the universe (despite the fact we really know it was probably created only for the sake of balance), and we must find the reason for the existence of this rule or the property of the universe that supports this rule. This is sort of like science. One observes the facts (the roll of the dice or their effects) of empirical evidence and tries to deduce general properties of the universe (the rules). In a fantasy world if you accept the rule it becomes a fact of empirical evidence and it is up to you as DM to deduce the underlying rules of the universe that support these game rules. If you approach the game in this manner, you will be able to understand the whys of the rules and tell where they might apply, perhaps even being able to give your players a reasonable explanation as to the justification of the seemingly slip sod rule. If you don't do this, then your players will almost certainly find the rule silly and the DM who supports it equally silly. "Why," for example, "can't my human mage wear this Elven chain?" It would be nice to have an answer.
I have found it necessary to create a wide variety of things that would help me explain away the official rules that were, let's admit it, written solely to help keep the game in balance. Relying on official explanations always left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This necessitated, amongst other things, the creation of the eight kinds of magic. Why eight? That's how many I could think of at the time - that's why.
In my universe and on my world I have created eight kinds of magic. They frequently appear to be identical on the surface, but their underlying power, source, and justification was different from each other kind. Also, they had different side effects or consequences. Here is a list of the eight kinds of magic:
Planar magic is the one typically used by humans, some if not most half Elves, and a few other races. This is how they work: The power of a single focused mind or life force is sufficient to bridge the gap from the PMP (in tendril space (see the evolution of magical worlds)) to another plane of existence. Usually this is done as a first step in the process of casting a spell. Next, after gaining access to a useful flow of energy, the energy gained from such a bridge, that is usually a connection of the +MP and the -MP through one's brain on the PMP, is used to punch a temporary hole into another plane that, itself, has a higher threshold energy than you could possibly get to by using one's own feeble brain. This has the effect of gaining access to even more energy that can be properly shaped by the power of the prepared or experienced mind. Such energy is typically used to widen the gap, protect one's brain, and/or open a gap into another plane. This process continues. Each step increases the total amount of energy or the different kinds of energy being used and manipulated. The more energy you have, the wider the gaps or the more difficult a bridge you may create. Eventually you will be able to use that energy to punch a hole into the plane you really desire, shape the elements from these planes with the aid of mental, verbal, material, or somatic components, or in some way power some other trick you have learned. Again, the details are unimportant. It is enough to know that planar magic is formed in this fashion. Remember that all of this takes place rather rapidly.
Peculiarities of planar magic include such things as the problems of iron metal. Apparently, a large concentration of iron around you, if it is sufficiently close like it would be in the wearing of metal armor, will disrupt the field around your person. Such ferrous metal will cause tenuous magical fields to collapse and cannot support the continued amplification of energy. As this problem with the proximity to iron falls off as the inverse of the fourth power of the distance between you and it, you really must be wearing the iron "around" much of your body and not simply holding some or standing next to some iron. (So an iron brazier will not bother you, nor will that iron sword on your belt, for example). You could even cast spells in a metal room if it were big enough (say, with at least one wall more than a few feet from the mage). This fact is used to good effectiveness when a magic user is forced to wear metal, or surrounded by a very, very close cage of metal (like an iron maiden) to keep them from using their spells.
Other metals may be employed, but they are not typically available (who makes bronze armor during the Iron Age)? Such armors are not as strong, durable, and probably weigh even more. But under this explanation it may be possible for very rich mages who also happen to be very strong and who also do not care about their spells going off at the END of every round to buy, maintain, lug around, and wear armors made from other metals than iron. Of course, by the time they are rich enough to afford that, they may already have better magical protections (Armor as a spell, or magic items of protection).
Other armors may or may not be worn depending on the DM. It may simply be the case that even leather armor is too restrictive, too encumbering for the weaker mages, or simply not as useful as a many-pocketed cloak or robe. In any event, the AC advantage of 2 points for such armor isn't so terrible it would unbalance the game. If you still feel it does, you may rule the lack of pockets in leather armor slows down the casting time of their spells. This may encourage them to return to their robes. If not, so what? Just let him wear it (and buy it) and cast his spell at the end of every round, provided something doesn't interrupt him during that time ;-)
As the magic user gains experience he or she can open larger rifts, control more energies, and memorize more starting tricks that are the first steps taken to get the ball rolling. (Also, if outside of tendril space, a more experienced magic user may be able to bridge the gap between planes and still use magic, though at a slower rate, a lower power, or some other appropriate penalty).
The main advantage of Planar Magic would seem to be its unlimited progression in power and levels. Also, the humans seem to naturally take to this type of magic. Elves do not. In fact, Elves can't learn this stuff since it is unnatural to their brains and their spirits. Perhaps a soul is required as opposed to a spirit in order to utilize planar magic.
Planar magic, just like most other magic, does not derive the full power from the mage. It would be a mistake to think the enormous power of some of those spells springs entirely from the mind of the mage or cleric or anyone. No, only the tiny amount of energy required to start the ball rolling. To begin the process of energy amplification, just a fraction of the spell's eventual power is required from the mage. Then, with the knowledge of how this is done, how to manipulate it, how to channel it through one's body and brain, and how to accomplish this without serious detrimental affects to one's own body, mind, or soul, does the magic user manage to cast such powerful spells. Thus, even my Blank Mana System for casting spells should not be taken to mean the spell's power comes from the mage, but only the energy required to get it going comes from the mage.
3rd edition AD&D is now out as I modify this article. I see no functional difference between 'memorization' of spells and 'preparing' them (at least insofar as it still works exactly the same way from my point of view). But the terminology may be better as one didn't really memorize spells as they imprinted the mystic energies upon their brain to begin the amplification process, and after they cast such a spell, it wasn't forgotten so much as used, so I think the 3rd edition terminology will be superior, even though there is no functional difference between how I did before and how they do it now.
The next type of magic is the Natural Magic. For those of you familiar with STAR WARS you may remember the Force. It is an energy field created by all living things. (Unlike most other kinds of magic that rely on fundamental properties of the universe or fundamental properties of the individual, natural magic relies of all living things). This energy field surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the universe together. Well, that's not actually the whole story. But now we know why Elves may or may not use metal armor, depending on the DM or the edition, and why they have a greater respect for all living things. If the DM wishes, they may still rule Natural magic is not effected by metal. The Elven mage can still wear metal, or the DM might insist natural magic is still affected by most metals - just not as much as planar magic. Elven chainmail is sufficiently different in composition and of a different kind of metal and so natural magic will work with it. This means, of course, that human mages cannot use Elven chainmail like humans use planar magic, but it also means single class Elven mages can use Elven chainmail. This really isn't too unbalancing as the DM can always limit the access to Elven chain.
The spirit of an elf is a natural part of this force and is required in order to be in intimate contact with it. A soul, on the other hand, may contact it, but only to a lesser degree. This is because a soul is a less natural, almost deity-created artificial construct. Who knows, perhaps it is partially constructed from a spirit. However, this also means that if a human is willing to put up with severe limitations of potential levels and learn natural magic instead of planar magic - and the DM should have the player come up with a pretty darn good reason why they would wish to do this - then this human mage could conceivably use Elven chainmail, though his level would be limited. Thus, metal armor doesn't affect natural magic. Or, if it does, not to the degree it affects planar magic.
The important thing to realize here is that, unlike planar magic, natural magic is more limited in its power and level. This is why Elves are limited in their maximum level. This is true of not only magic user Elves but of other character classes of Elves or other non-human races as well since they too are tied to a kind of power of nature. In fact there are those who say Elves are simply an extension of nature and natural power. Eventually, well into the realm of the NPC portion of one's Elven life, a magic using elf may tire of life on this PMP and retire across the waters ( or what ever), and learn a trick or two or achieve a higher state of being that allows them to use natural magic on a much higher power level. Such power may be channeled through a single elf still on the PMP known as "The Gardener." It is this elf, through his or her link to the Elves across the "waters," who is ultimately responsible for most of the so-called Elven magic items like the boots of Elvenkind or Elven chain mail. They say no human has ever seen "The Gardener."
Now some people may think that Druids would use this type of magic and therefore be able to use metal armor. This isn't the case. As a specialist cleric the druid uses Divine Magic. Not wearing metal armor is part of their religion and not because it would spoil their spells. Not at all, it would simply just tick their deity off.
Of course the only significant difference between planar and natural magic, besides those already mentioned, is the beginning or intermediate power source. Much of the practice of multiplying the energy in stages is still true. As such, the practitioners of natural magic and the practitioners of planar magic can, if so inclined, share magic spells. All that is required is a simple translation from one intermediate power source to another. The real tricks of manipulating and shaping the energies or elements are still essentially the same. Only the initial source of power has changed. Thus, a human mage and an Elven mage may both share the same fireball spell. It need only be tweaked in the beginning paragraphs for one mage to understand the other's spell. That is, for example, the Elven mage can replace the beginning paragraphs, that he can't understand, with something he can, and therefore use the other 95% of the spell (or vice versa). It just takes a little extra work, but considerably less work than researching a whole new spell from scratch. This must be done at home and not in the field, and then they must each still prepare their own version for their own spell book before they can use the spell. I only mean to suggest they may save some time and expense with a little cooperation, though official AD&D frowns upon this sharing of magic spells between PCs (that is yet another artificial rule I'm perfectly willing to ignore).
I should mention, if the DM so wishes, as a further means of game balance, practitioners of Natural magic may take 10, 20, or even 30 years to learn this craft. This is no great problem for elves or even half elves since they are much longer-lived, but would be for a human. Humans can hardly afford to start out so old, almost ready to get slammed with old age stat adjustments, just to use Natural magic and, perhaps, metal armor. Sure, they could do it, maybe, but would they? Probably not. But this would help explain why humans don't use magic that works with metal armor since the nature of the magic requires a much longer comitment.
RUNES are natural forces of the universe. Their secret is known only to a few. They are found in Norse Mythology more than anywhere else. Odin, All Father of the Norse gods, hung himself from a tree for nine days and gained their secret. What a weirdo!
But seriously, these runes are properly more a part of a RUNE QUEST campaign, but the power source of this magic may exist in any DM's AD&D world. The powers of the runes vary from very weak to unimaginably powerful and from the extremely trivial to the highly useful. Those who have access to runic power probably master only a few runes, and even then the less powerful of those. If these runes can be found and mastered, a runic priest or mage may gain in power and level. These runes are more akin to natural magic than to planar magic, and their use may violate some traditional rules in the AD&D world. They exist on my world, but where is not generally known to typical PCs.
They are usually employed through the use of tattoos. The runes are inscribed on the skin, perhaps subsequently scratched to darken them with blood at the appropriate time, and concentrated upon. The power should manifest itself in the desired fashion. Of the runes that may be found, the healing rune is the most common. It is believed the actual shapes or runes have some natural and intrinsic resonance with the universe, and as such they have a distinct power or effect on their surroundings. Yet, it is typically the case that though the rune will heal, it leaves the caster somewhat fatigued and in poor shape for combat, perhaps having negative modifiers in combat until they can rest at least 4 hours or so.
Like the Runic power, Divine Power is another of the quirks of the underlying structure of the universe. In fact, Runic power is just a very special kind of divine power. This power, however, when used to its full extent, could only possibly be manipulated by beings of god like origins or powers. The main difference here is in how to get the ball rolling. Such power can only be accessed through the correct type of energy that is generated and supplied by living, intelligent beings. These specialized beings are called "worshipers." The power (Stigmata, the power of belief and/or faith) generated by worshipers must be regularly and freely sacrificed to a given deity. The more worshipers, the more power.
The sacrifice of this power to one's deity is usually accomplished through prayer. The more you go to church and pray, the more power you lend your deity. After awhile, the power you sacrificed naturally regenerates within you and you may go to church and pray again. Now your deity uses all this power to help out their worshipers and increase the power base of the deity by encouraging other creatures and/or people to become their worshipers. That's why gaining converts is important to a cleric.
This divine power within each worshiper is usually reflected or seen as luck, good fortune, or personal magnetism of a sort. (The very essence or life spark within an intelligent being is a kind of rune or runic magic. The natural resonance with the universe of such a life is the source of this regenerating power). Perhaps one's charisma score is in some way reflected in this divine spark within each of us. This power is also, by the way, used in the casting of the above runic magic if you happen to have those. (Of course, if you are not a Runic priest or mage, you probably haven't learned some of the necessary tricks of doing this. Thus, if you do employ this type of magic without proper training, your character will temporarily be greatly weakened instead of slightly until they can rest. This weakening effect will take the form of penalties to luck rolls, and perhaps even penalties to combat situations (like rolls to hit or rolls to save, for example). If a normal spell caster tried to employ a rune without the proper training, they may find some of the memorized spells have been usurped and used for the power, and this would act as if they had cast that spell, only getting a different effect. The spell slot will hold a spell again the next time the caster memorizes spells again. Typically, however, this will only happen if the runic effect is of less power than the memorized spell).
Now, allowing your god to have your power makes it available for their use. Of course you won't have it, but you usually don't need it. On those occasions when you do need it, your god, if invoked through a quick prayer, (just "Oh God!" will sometimes do it), they will probably return it, and more, to you in your time of need. Ultimately, over the course of a life time, you will end up giving your god far more power than your god will give you back during such relatively rare times of dire need. Of course this assumes a large worshiping base, for if the base is small, the power may not be there at your time of need. This is another reason why people get so offended when others question their faith (though it is mostly a subconscious reason as they may not fully realize the very fact another questions their faith may weaken their deity and increase the probability the power will not be there in times of dire need).
On my world, it is the rule that no character, and not just clerics, may proceed beyond 7th level unless they are connected to a deity or deity like power in some fashion. A church member in good standing regularly sacrifices power to their deity. It is those times of crises, when the deity gives you back some power, and more, that are ultimately the justification of hit points above the maximum of your first dice, the justification of your levels beyond the 7th, and in general, the god awful incredible nature of the adventuring individual when compared to normal people (see the Justification of the Hit Points System). Naturally, since adventurers call upon their deity on a regular basis, the deity expects more from them. If it isn't forthcoming, look out.
The Justification Of The Hit Point System (Are Hit Points Realistic Or What?)
Some interesting things about Divine Power should be noted. Its use is limited to the worshiping base in the area of its origin. That is, the worshipers of Athena on Orlantia provide the power for Athena that manifests itself on Orlantia, so the more worshipers of Athena on Orlantia, the more powerful her presence. In fact it is because of a sufficiently large worshiping base on Orlantia that Athena is a greater goddess there. On other planets, with fewer worshipers, she may be a lesser goddess. On other planets, with no or very few worshipers, she may not even be known and have no power to use at all. Even though her cleric's spells would work in such a place, they may not regain those spells above 2nd level spells until they return to a planet where the worshiping base is strong, or at least to an area of a plane of existence that is associated with such a planet or worshiping base of power (like the ethereal or astral planes "above" Orlantia).
As a consequence of Divine Magic, a practitioner of Divine Magic is fixed and immortal. That is, they can no longer rise in levels as adventurers do. The only (best, at any rate) way to further increase their power is by increasing their worshiping base. Furthermore, time no longer affects or ages a deity. They can still be killed, but not by old age. It is also a fact that such power prevents certain human or mortal considerations. Things like growing weary of life or tired of one's existence are good examples of the problems your typical deity no longer faces.
Divine power is also used to form avatars, the pale imitations of the deity. These avatars are written up in the Deities & Demigods book, or the Legends & Lore book. Some say those write-ups reflect only 1/10th of the true power and abilities of the deity; others say 1/100th. While the deity is on their home plane they are much more powerful than those paltry write-ups give them credit. Only your DM knows for sure just how powerful the gods really are, and in my honest opinion, if the DM is doing their job properly, your characters will have little or no opportunity to test the true power of the gods.
Each deity is the pinnacle of his or her or its hierarchy. Consider a four-sided dice with the deity being at the very top. One side of the dice represents the hierarchy of a particular planet or power base. Power generated on one side is used (regained, really) only on that side. A different side of the dice represents another planet of worshipers or followers. Naturally, there may be many more than three sides to this dice. (The forth one is on the bottom). The only entity common to all sides is the deity themselves. Thus, the highest and most trusted archangel of Athena on Orlantia might not even be known on another planet where Athena was worshiped. (All of this helps explain why the gods have different characteristics from one DM's world to the next).
It is through the use of Divine Power that the deity constructs their hierarchy. Your position in their hierarchy is at the base while you are alive. Your position in it in the after life depends entirely on how well you served your deity in life and how closely you adhered to your deity's ideals. Most normal people, upon dying, go to their just rewards if they were members in good standing. There is little point in returning to life, for probability suggests they could only hurt their probable position in the hierarchy by dying a second time while not in "a state of grace." Oops.
It is only if returning to life would be likely to improve one's position that a desire to return might typically be found. This is why an adventurer would be anxious to return from the bliss of heaven. Through the continued increase in levels they may yet serve their deity better. By serving their deity better, they improve their position in the hierarchy for the after life. The better you served, the higher up you are and the closer you are to god. Next to the deity we find things like major angels or archangels. Relatively close we may find dead paladins, clerics, and other high level adventurers if they were particularly devout worshipers and they served their god well. At the bottom of the pyramid, excluding the living, we find the majority of souls who continue to serve as healing spirits, guardian angels, and in general, minor go-betweens for the hierarchy. The exact nature of the hierarchy, its structure, or what it may look like or manifest itself as on the outer, astral, and other planes of existence is not always clear. For now, it's simply enough to know it exist, and to know your eventual position in it depends on your conforming to the standards of your deity.
It is also through the use of Divine Power that a deity may disseminate some of their power by granting spells and special abilities or powers to their clerics. Similar to Runic power, the base of worshipers generates the necessary starting power that is then amplified through runic like, divine powers. Eventually one would be able to command and control spirits, the elements, and other energies in this fashion. The deity's clerics needn't understand how this magic works in order to use it; they simply need to understand what their deity wants and expects of them in order to continue to be supplied with those locked patterns of magic.
It may be interesting to know that the worshiping base may actually shape their deity through their preconceived notions of their god. Typically spells and powers peculiar to a specific deity may arise on a specific planet simply because the worshipers believe these powers exist. On another world where the deity is still worshiped, certain powers, customs, spells, requirements, and a host of other things may be different because of the differing beliefs of the worshiping base on that planet (another justification why deities may be different from one DM's world to the next). In fact, on my world, each deity has at least one spell for each of the seven levels of clerical spells that I make available to the PC and NPC clerics of that deity. I take the time to create these new spells for each deity when a player comes along who wishes to play a cleric of that deity. Of course, the clerics also have access to all the other spells in the book, provided I haven't thrown them out entirely and provided they fit my idea of one of the spheres of control for that deity. Also, they must conform to the greater or lesser deity rules in standard play. I will give a complete example of one deity, Athena, at the end of this discussion on the eight kinds of magic that you can see by following a link. This way you may see more clearly how a particular planet shapes its deities.
Finally, as a last note on Divine Magic, divine ascension may occur when a character becomes so powerful, so well-known, so well loved or respected, or even so feared they almost accidentally develop their own worshiping base. Yes, fear of a god or entity is a valid worshiping base.
When at least 10,000 individuals think of you as god-like, Divine ascension may occur. Of course, this would only happen if you were significantly higher than the average adventurer was. It has been said this would occur if one were at least 10 levels higher than what might normally be considered very powerful. The actual number would depend on the world, the DM, and other factors. You may then be promoted to lesser deity status or perhaps, archangel status of an existing deity. As an aside, this is James Starlight's highest aspiration - to become an archangel of Athena. One of his greatest fears is the fact he is expected to enter, at the time of his death, the True Stone Artifact. Chances are, if he indeed may qualify for such an august position in Athena's hierarchy, he will attempt to forgo incorporation into the matrix; otherwise he will probably end up in the matrix just as all other former emperors have done.
However and whenever it may be done, divine ascension transforms a regular character into a divine character. They become fixed to a certain extent. Their level, abilities, magic items, and other things that make them god like in the eyes of their "followers or worshipers" transcend normal considerations and become divine. So, for example, your well-known +3 frost brand sword, that is part of your image, is now fixed and will forever be with you. As long as your worshipers believe in you and it, the sword will be as indestructible as you are. Just how indestructible that is depends on a wide variety of factors.
Once divine, one could no longer progress in levels, abilities, or acquire more permanent magic items in the normal way, but would instead be further molded by the worshiping base. Hopefully, such a base of worshipers could be encouraged to grow. It is only in this way a deity could obtain more power. Naturally, such a deity would have to conform to all the rules the gods live by. What are those again?
In the realm of an AD&D world we are likely to come across all different kinds of races. They frequently have, probably as the result of the evolutionary forces in tendril space, peculiar magical characteristics associated with their particular race and no other races. More likely than any other thing, their unusual or unique physiognomy is the basis for this power and this magic draws power from food, the world around them, or some other sources. The power is stored within their bodies. That "extra organ in his chest that I can't begin to guess at," for example. The configuration of the organ, the mind, or the body, coupled with the power stored within usually runs the unusual effect. As an example, take the Pegasus. The power it has is simply neutral buoyancy and a certain amount of levitation on the PMP. With it, the Pegasus can manage to fly with the aid of their wings, which are not particularly magic. This magical power operates differently than normal magic and wouldn't register on a detect magic spell, nor necessarily be canceled in an anti-magic field (ask your DM, however, which ones are or are not). An alchemist, however, may be aware of the unusual properties of the special organ of the Pegasus and seek out such a tissue sample to manufacture levitation or fly potions. The feathers of a Pegasus may be responsible for the gathering of the necessary energy around them. As such, they qualify for the magic feathers that are required for the writing of scrolls. Also, it may be the case that even though the Pegasus levitates, wing movement and forward motion may be required to continually supply the energy to the levitation effect.
However it may appear, a Pegasus doesn't fly by lifting its own weight (or its rider's, for that matter) with those relatively small wings. Also, the Pegasus draws upon such power for another innate effect. The ability to see good or evil, or at least, the ability to detect enemies.
Other races that have, at least in part, this type of magic going for them include dragons, basilisks, beholders, giant bumble bees, and many other creature whose apparent violations of the laws of physics or their violation of the laws of aerodynamics are not easily explained in other ways.
It is a general rule - though not an absolute rule - the power of the mind would need to develop before a race could accidentally gain access to the other planes of existence. After that, the properties of tendril space would be far easier to take advantage of and this is when such properties become an evolutionary force for that race. It is by virtue of this fact we see many of the "magical" creatures of AD&D to be of higher intelligence or wisdom, or sometimes just higher in hit dice and life energy. (Not always, though. Remember the little bumblebee).
Through deep understanding and contemplation of the nature of the universe, it is possible to gain access to hidden powers of the universe. These powers, also akin to the runic powers, are a reflection of the deep mysteries of the universe and the nature of WHAT IS. With such a deep understanding of what is and why it is, it is possible to understand why and how some effects should, and therefore do come into existence. It is further possible to understand why and how other things should, and therefore do go out of existence. (A practitioner of Meta-magic becomes a Living Rune. No, A Living RUNE, and not that place where your family watches T.V).
NOTE: The term Meta-magic here is probably very different from the new 3rd edition term of Meta-magic. Please ignore the coincidence. They are not the same things.
I liken this to sub nuclear particles coming into existence, doing something, and then leaving existence before they "technically" break any laws of the conservation of mass or energy. In case you didn't know this from your lengthy studies of nuclear physics, this actually happens. It is the reason for the strong nuclear force, that is the reason why all the positively charged protons in the center of the atom, that should fly apart due to the mutual electromagnetic repulsion between like charges, stay together instead. Since this strong nuclear force is about 100 times stronger than the electromagnetic force, we can manage to have atoms that naturally have nearly 100 protons in their nucleus. Any more than that and they would fly apart. This is why we have only 92 naturally occurring atomic elements. The other ones are artificial and last only an exceedingly short time before they fly apart.
It is through the use of deep metaphysical magic that, at least minor abilities may manifest themselves. For example, the metaphysical practitioner (or MP) may understand the forces between you and a rock, causing you and the rock to hurl toward each other (mostly the rock appears to move since you are much more massive). Similarly, he may reverse gravity on you. Or he may cause small sections of your body to fly apart, no longer holding themselves together by natural molecular cohesive forces. Fortunately this only results in a few dice of damage near the surface of one's body as opposed to a massive cerebral hemorrhage or a massive heart attack all resulting in instant death. The reason for this was the simple premise that your own body, and things within your own body, are the hardest things for outside influences to control via magical means. This is why you see things like saving throws or we have the rule of thumb that states it is unfair to "wish" someone to death. It's not because the universe is concerned with being fair, far from it, but it seems that way only insofar as creatures have the most control over their own bodies.
I do not personally use the MP as a PC or even an NPC that is likely to come across any PCs. However, they do exist. Such an NPC might be found as a lonely hermit contemplating life's mysteries atop a mountain peak. It's much more likely he would simply be thought of as a wise old sage or guru than an MP. It's also more likely he would simply answer a question or two rather than resort to the vulgar display of his powers even to save his own life, for he probably knows something you don't about the after life ;-)
Random magic is my answer to the question of "Why anybody would create such an item?" Have you ever wondered why somebody might take the time and expense to create a bag of beans? In my universe, they don't. The first bag of beans came into existence as a result of the use of a bag of beans, or perhaps, paradoxically, by not using a bag of beans in the first place. Did that confuse you? Really? You see, it works like this: A bag of beans, and possibly other random magic, is temporal in nature. That is, they may partially exist outside of linear time. They work in a bizarre way.
First, a bag of beans gets a handle on what the future is or will be. Then it creates a situation that would make such a future impossible. Now the universe abhors a vacuum. Likewise, the universe abhors even more strenuously a temporal paradox. All surrounding energies of the universe start to converge on this apparent temporal paradox in order to correct the problem. This can usually be seen as an unusual light show of sorts on the astral plane. Now it is at this time that the bag of beans uses some of the gathering energy to get a handle on the future. (It may do this as it is outside of linear time). After that, when more energy has accumulated to correct the paradox, the bag of beans taps in and uses some of that energy to make the predetermined future a practical impossibility, thus causing the up coming paradox in the first place. Finally, since the universe has access to near infinite energies, the paradox corrects itself and the future is set straight again. But just before that, the bag of beans taps in again and uses some of the considerable energy to create the bean that caused all this in the first place. It is also at that time when the bean achieves temporary sentience and creates the initial conditions within itself to know the future in the past, and to cause the paradox later that created itself just now. Anything requiring intelligence is accomplished at this time, before sentience is lost.
In addition to creating itself, there is a random side effect in the form of what ever the bean manufactured to create the paradox. This is what the adventurers see and deal with. Now this bean, and its brothers, after the use of all such beans in the bag, disappear and eventually end up in the past where it was found in the first place. Finally, it may sometimes happen that this first bag of beans creates another bag that may someday create this first bag of beans. Now you understand.
Unfortunately, it isn't the case that all such bags could be stopped simply by not using the bag of beans. It was probably just such an attempt that created another, if not the very first bag of beans. By holding onto the bag and refusing to ever use it, future uses of the bag of beans, that were certain, became paradoxes and, well, you know the rest.
Ironically, if your character hates bags of beans and refuses to use one, it may well cause a further influx of such magic directed toward him. Thus, paradoxically, if they wished not to use things like a bag of beans, if one should happen to fall into their possession, they best use it and get it over with and hope that's the end of it. After all, if they were at least once destined to use the bag of beans and they refuse to use it, they, themselves, may become the temporal paradox, and having the near infinite energies of the universe directed at you is not all that pleasant.
And least someone suggest that is just a cheap excuse any old DM can come up with to force a PC to use a bag of beans, I'll have you know I object to that in the strongest possible terms. I don't think ANY old DM could come up with that ;-)
On my world Psionic abilities are just another type of magic. It most closely resembles the magic of physiognomy or racial magic. The principle difference is that Psionic abilities are not sufficiently widespread within one particular race so they may claim it as a racial characteristic. Any races claiming to be Psionic are probably just filthy with Psionic individuals, but they still fall short of the near 100% necessary to qualify as a physiognomy based magic. Psionics are similar in that the "extra organ" is simply a more convoluted brain. It is different in that many more varied effects may be seen. It is the similarities of psionics and racial magic that may mistakenly lead one to believe a Pegasus has Psionic levitation.
Another major difference is the attack and defense modes of a Psionic individual. A Pegasus doesn't have these and is therefore definitely not a Psionic creature.
Naturally, there may be other kinds of magic. I don't know everything that goes on in my own world so why should I know everything that goes on in yours? I just feel better knowing some apparent anomalies of the rules were, or potentially could be explained away in my universe. If you feel any of these things are useful, feel free to take them and use them in good health. Now, as promised, if you'd like to see a complete write-up of an example for Divine Magic, follow the link to the Athenian Clerics.
© May of 1999