Magic in Echoes is meant to be strange and dangerous. I want to recapture a bit more of the spirit of Vancian magic – each spell is a strange entity, seared into the mind and unleashed into the world, not just a dusty formula dutifully memorized each morning in triplicate.

These are my first cut at basic moves around the arcane and the divine. Like the fighting move before, these are only the basics – anyone can be caught in a frantic scrabble with a monster, or accidentally (or intentionally) read a spell, or beg the gods to intervene. Class playbooks would have improved modes of action – fighters taking the fight to monsters, wizards preparing spells, clerics channeling divine miracles – but everyone can fall back on some dangerous basics.

Magic

Spells are more than codified magical effects. Each instance of a spell is a kind of living, pseudo sentient magical energy, eager to burst off the page, and powerful enough to burn out the unprepared mind. A spell not carefully inscribed into a wizard’s spellbook, such as one trapped in a scroll, or carved on a dungeon wall, may be read, and then carried, by anyone. Once the spell takes root in a mind, it is removed from its former vessel, and resides in its bearer’s mind until it is spoken, and unleashed into the world.

When you read a spell of the first circle, roll INT.

On a success, pick 2.
On a partial success, pick 1.

  • You are able to cast the spell at a time of your choosing.
  • The strange urges imparted by the spell are not irresistible.
  • You have room in your mind to carry additional spells.

When you read a spell of the second circle, roll INT. So long as a spell of the second circle resides in your mind, you cannot store any more spells of the first or second circle there.

On a success, pick 2.
On a partial success, pick 1.

  • You may cast the spell at a time of your choosing… more or less.
  • You may try to resist the spell’s urges… if you’re not distracted.

When you read a spell of the third circle, roll INT. Spells of the third circle are too much for an unprepared mind to hold. A third circle spell will blow all other spells from the reader’s mind, and permit no new ones in.

On a success, pick 1

  • You may prevent the spell from speaking itself
  • You are not forced to make all INT checks with one die while the spell is lodged in your mind.

On a partial success, pick 1

  • You lose a point of INT
  • You lose a point of CON

Here is an example spell of the first circle:

The Incomparable Word of Opening

When the Incomparable Word of Opening is uttered, all doors and containers in the speaker’s presence are opened, and all bonds, latches, clasps, locks, and similar are undone.
Compulsion: Knock on every doorway you pass.

Miracles

When you are alone, as your doom draws near, call out to the gods for deliverance, and roll WIS.

On a success, the gods of your alignment will give you an opportunity. It is up to you to take it.
On a partial success, the gods will give you an opportunity, but will collect their price later.

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2 thoughts on “Echoes of Magic and Miracles

  1. Nifty! I like the idea of the classic “you see a such-and-such inscribed with strange glyphs” leading, upon closer inspection, to somebody accidentally absorbing a spell. The “compulsion” mechanic is also quite flavorful.

    “You are not forced to make all INT checks with one die” is an awkward wording. I’d suggest sort of keywording it, like “You are not discombobulated* while the spell is lodged in your mind.” Then at the end of the move, say “While discombobulated, you roll only one die for INT checks.”

    *Choose a better keyword, of course. ;p

    Like

    1. My little attempt at DW’s delightful “This specific terrible thing DOESN’T happen to you”, if a bit too mechanical. It’s so… mobster. “Nice little character you gots here, be a shame what anyfing should happen to it…”

      My preference at this point is to deviate from DW’s example with the spells, and not have a roll for casting. I think I can load the hazards of magic into side effects. The attentive will be sure not to speak the word of opening around people wearing, say, armor, or belts. The less attentive will be sure not to speak it a second time.

      The other thing I like is adding the weighted risk for, say, a wizard to decide whether to risk carrying spells beyond the normal allotment.

      Like

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