... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Non-Materialistic Elves

As I develop this magic system based on materialistic spell points, I’m liking it more and more and want to use it… but there’s a problem I’m beginning to notice. When I first suggested it, I was thinking I would keep “normal” magic as-is, but use the alternate system for elven magic, to help make elves more distinctive. But as I thought about it more, especially after writing about the physical nature of the power source for magic, I began to feel like the relationship should be reversed.

Even though I was using “materialistic” in the literal sense of having a material form, it’s feeling more like a very materialistic system in the philosophical sense: rejecting metaphysical or spiritual matters, focusing on the practical and physical, even tending to be oriented towards commerce. That doesn’t sound like elves to me at all. I’ve always seen elves as being good at magic because they are inherently magical. They ultimately can’t be as powerful as might human wizards, but magic comes easier to them because they are born with a sense of the magical forces in the world.

So maybe I should swap the two magic systems.

Human spellcasters are sharply divided into the spiritual clerics, who draw power from divine forces and have a more limited range in what they can do, and materialistic magicians, who study how to distill mana into a physical form and use it to power a wide range of spells.

Elves, on the other hand, are in between. They have a “materialistic spiritualism” view of the world and can prepare (memorize) spells to cast when needed, without the need for arcane fuel. But they don’t have the freedom of human magicians, who can cast any spell they know as long as they have mana balls as fuel. They must prepare specific spells beforehand.

I’m thinking, though, that elves learn spells from spellbooks, but don’t need to use spellbooks to memorize spells for casting. If they study their spellbooks, they automatically memorize the spells they select, but if they just meditate for a number of hours equal to their highest spell level, they can memorize the spells on a successful 3d6 vs. Int roll (half effective Int in stressful or suboptimal circumstances.) On a failed result, their retention is poor and a spell check must be made every time they cast a spell, to see if it was successfully memorized.

Creative Commons license

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.

Written with StackEdit.


  1. This "feels" right. It is world-building that helps flesh out the mechanics in a believable way. I like it.