Saturday, December 22, 2018

Occultism (per request)

With this post, the general of the elf and dwarf also completed, I come to the end of all that Pandred asked me to do.  At the moment, I have nothing on my plate that comes from a reader or a Patreon supporter.  Help me fix that!

Sage studies are a major headache.  As I've said before, they are always a rabbit hole and, realistically, they should be subject to adjustment through play.  Any complex subject ~ occultism for example ~ would need to be play-tested before it could be comfortably established.  This is why I usually try to keep any rules I write deliberately conservative.

Much of what appears below, from my game wiki, has not been tested.  I have run the tarot ability, and it worked fairly well.  However, that's largely because my world is very highly defined with an extremely flexible dynamic, so that if a card gives me an idea of a series of events that will happen, I can roll with it very easily and not feel that I or my system is threatened.  Another DM would perhaps not be so confident.

In any case, Occultism would be a mess for anyone.  As I have built the concept so that it stands completely alone from spells, or any of the effects that any game spell provides, the result is both alien and impossible to estimate.  It would only take one very ambitious, innovative player to potentially wreck the concept ... I have kept that in mind throughout and I believe that I have tried to put barriers in place.  None of these things, at least for the level of knowledge discussed, could tip my campaign as far as I could see.  I could be wrong.

Much of this is new, having just written it today: numerology, tea leaf reading, carve sigil, detect mania, make a reading, acupuncture and comprehend aura are all new subjects upon which I haven't written before.  Please enjoy.

Occultism (sage study)

Enables a scientific investigation of magic and the magic arts, not necessarily limited to the employment of magic by any particular class. Also investigates other phenomena, such as mass suggestion, superstition, the nature of the soul and the development of incantation.

A significant part of the study includes the cultivation of wild magic, a naturally underlying power that manifests in the Prime Material Plane from outside influences, most predominantly the four elemental planes and the planes of positive and negative energy. By closely examining these forces through occult disciplines it is possible, and dangerous, to set events in motion that will irreversably change the lives of people and entities. Knowing how these changes are about to emerge, the occultist can then use that advantage to further a cause or find benefits.

While most events set in motion are relatively benign, the wild nature of uncontrolled magic can produce results that are either fortunate or disastrous ... so it is with care that an occultist stirs wild magic. Too many investigations will multiply the possible results to such a degree that unrestrained chaos results ... which, like nature, is nearly always more destructive than helpful.

Effectively to make the occult work as a study, as a DM my duty is to adjust the events upcoming in my world according to the random elements created by investigations into astrology, tea leaves and so on. This can be complicated and problematical for a pre-destined adventure; I have found in the past that the chaos that results usually causes a player to turn to this discipline with extraordinary restraint.

For anyone wishing to invest into the occult, having gained the study, I will require that they choose one of these five disciplines, with the understanding that it is the responsibility of the player, and not the DM, to assemble the necessary materials and learn their use, just as any practicing occultist must:
Astrology: the player will be expected to purchase an astrological book that will enable them to make astrological charts ~ and to make these charts of player and non-player characters in the setting as part of the cultivation of the discipline. The player does not have to believe in astrology, but the effects of making a chart will depend on the player's ability to demonstrate the accuracy and detail of what planets are in what houses at the time of the charted character's birth.
Bone Throwing: to read the bones, the character must purchase or be in possession of six 6-sided dice that are unique of each other, with images instead of numbers. Often called "story cubes." Add to these one 6-sided die that possesses pips. The manner in which the dice land determines the interpretation.
Numerology: requires little preparation, but does require the character keep continuous track of all dice rolled at a table in a given period to have any chance of making an observation. Depending on the die rolls, it is possible that no observation will result from this work that is done.
Tarot: the player must purchase a tarot deck. Results will form from the cards as they are pulled and set out during the reading.
Tea Leaf Reading: the player must provide loose tea and cup, as well as willingness to drink the tea and perform the ritual of tea reading in order to create the images necessary to make a proper reading. The player will be required to study the pattern of the leaves and identify pictures therein.

Occultism associated with other planes of existence and demonology is more appropriately described as dweomercraft.

Carve Sigil: inscribes a pictorial representation of the occultist's desired outcome.
Detect Mania: enables the recognition of crowds influenced by unnatural mass influence.
Make a Reading: produces psychic results when the proper rituals are performed.

Acupuncture: the relief of pain or other malady through the insertion of needles.
Comprehend Aura: enables the detection of the colored aura enveloping a living body; reveals the presence of familiars.
Seek Totem Spirit (NA): self-identifying with a familial animal form to gain greater natural prowess.


Form Incantation (NA): empowers a cultic rite, enabling a limited mastery of wild magic.
Master Familiar (NA): reveals the true nature of familiars and increases the bond between familiar and master.
Transfiguration (NA): the power to experience a momentary divine radiance.

Maleficium (NA): the mastery of wild magic with the intention of causing harm.
Mysticism (NA): the practice of religious ecstasy as a means of controlling wild magic.


Pandred said...

I saw these posts sneaking their way onto the wiki, and frankly I'm pleased as punch with the results, conservative as they be.

Good ol' Pan is a 2 in Numerology, an Aquarius, and her compound number is, wouldn't you know it, 20. "The Awakening" or "Judgement".

It's the silliest sounding nonsense to apply to life, but given her mercenary attitudes the thought of having the DM throw a bunch of hidden trials of compassion at her is delightful. I could see something like this easily defining a character's arc in fun ways around the table.

I only wish this had been up sooner. One of my players nearly got dropped by a Wyvern last week, scooped up at 0hp into their jaws to be carried off after they flubbed their last attack roll: a 4.

The party drops everything, throwing axes and hammers to catch the beast before it takes off. The first: 4. The second: 4.

It was the fourth attack that finally managed to slay the Wyvern and spare our poor Paladin, and having a ready magical explanation for this on hand would have been absolutely amazing.

Baron Opal said...

I have another topic for you that I've meant to ask about but never gotten to until now.

If I remember correctly, you don't have multiple languages in your campaign. Human languages, that is. There seems to be one language for each race. Given the detail that you tend to dive into other aspects of gaming and life (e.g. CLO), and the relative ease, I believe, with which you could find areas of languages and dialects, why haven't you created a cluster of rules around language?

And, if the answer is "read the wiki" that's fine. But, here's a chance to expound to an interested audience.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Baron Opal,

If I have an Achilles' heel, it is language. In my life, I took four years of French in grade school, mandatory, between grades 6 and 9. For university, I took three years of Latin, mandatory (my other option was Greek), for my Classics Degree. I tried Russian in university as well, a year of it, because I figured, hey, I must have it in my blood. And in the last five years, I have spent hundreds of hours trying to learn German on Duolingo.

The result? I cannot create a single sentence of any of those languages in my head on the fly. I cannot think in any of those languages. French was absolute murder; I literally failed both semesters of my last two years and yet I was forced to sit in the class day after day, hopelessly unable to make my brain grasp so much as a smattering of vocabulary. Latin was better, as the language has rules that make better sense, but it often consisted of four hours of study, sometimes every day, to get a C at best, usually a C-, often a D or an F. Really, remembering it, Latin was absolute HELL. Russian was eye opening, and I can speak a few standard sentences of it. Sometimes I say "spasebaw" without thinking about it for thank you, but my Russian is ochen ploka and I have now used almost half my vocabulary in the language.

With German and Duolingo, I can concoct a sentence as long as it is written; but only while I'm actually studying it. Right now, my mind is a blank. I could not translate "my mind is a blank" if my life depended on it.

I can reach for an English vocabulary of 150K+ words, easily, but I cannot find ten words in German that would go together to make a sentence. And believe me, I have goddamned tried. The best porn in the world is in German and if that is not incentive, I don't know what the fuck is.

That's why language is not a part of my game world.