Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eldritch Weirdness and Getting Freaky With Magic

I neglected to mention that I recently acquired the collection of the Books of Eldritch Weirdness. Suffice to say, they are aptly titled.

I have introduced some of the spells into my AD&D game by way of a spellbook found in a hidden extra-dimensional room in the tower the characters have been exploring for many weeks (real time) now. The magic-user failed to decipher the one spell he is presently skilled enough to cast, but given that he is due to level soon he will have another shot. Frankly, I can't wait until he becomes familiar with the spells and what they do. Will he use them? Will he destroy the spellbook? We shall see.

More importantly, the nature of the spells included in the book have got the wheels turning in my head with regard to how odd and otherworldly magic should be. In my campaign, magic was brought from another place (perhaps another universe entirely) by a dying race of beings who were desperate to preserve their art. This is not something that was ever intended for the mortal races of this world, and I really want to try and capture that. Wizards should be unusual or downright unnerving people. Imagine knowing the spell from BoEW that melts someone for six hours before reconstituting them. Why would you do this to someone? What kind of person willingly pursues this kind of knowledge?

I have to admit that some of the odd attack spells, like the one that causes one's opponent to be strangled by their own hair, is starting to attract me over the typical magic missile and lightning bolt realm of magic used to harm others. Even among the basic spells of the game, I am beginning to be more intrigued by the non-artillery spells... I want to see magic-users drawing circles of protection or divination spells where they must congress with spirits, demons, or worse. I want to see Thulsa Doom's arrow-into-snake spell instead of fireball. I want the scare spell from AD&D1 to be called The Sign of Sxirian and involve a forbidden glyph that transmits a tiny fraction of the true nature of the universe into the target's mind...or perhaps the spell causes brief telepathic contact with the entity Sxirian as it flies and cavorts through a distant universe of starfire (plasma) and chaos.

I have yet to introduce the concept of a magic-user's guild or magical college/academy to this game, and at this point I don't think I am going to. Those who use magic are dangerous scholar-vagrants, and certainly no civilized folk would ever allow them to organize. Of course, wizards being who they are, they would be disinclined to yield to any organization that might charge them dues or dictate how they may practice their profession. Like Vance's stories, I want wizards to learn spells by thievery, intimidation, and cajoling. Magic should scare the shit out of normal people , even if they dare to ask the advice of the village witch, they should have some kind of charm held behind their back for fear of what simply being around her could do to them. Adventurers take magic-users into their party, but adventurers, too, are dangerous people whose lives are filled with violence, horror, and debauchery.

To recall the example above, imagine you are a person who knows how to melt someone for a few hours before they reform. Now, imagine you are the type of person who would call that person ally or companion.

My brain is afire with possibility. You might even say I'm inspired.


  1. "Those who use magic are dangerous scholar-vagrants,"

    I like you're line of thinking

  2. Nice. I may just have to adjust my playing style a bit.

  3. Oh yeah, I really want to figure out the spell now.

  4. "Adventurers take magic-users into their party, but adventurers, too, are dangerous people whose lives are filled with violence, horror, and debauchery." -- Ryan


  5. Matt Finch's Eldritch Weirdness is one of my favourite FRPG products from the past few years. It is a great resource, dripping with dangerous flavour.

    I like your thinking about the nature of magic and wizards. Good stuff!