Legendary Paths: Magic
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Hi everyone! We were so happy to see the response to our last blog post on the classes and the three martial paths. If you missed it, you can check out the Teulu, the Slayer, and the Gladiator here! We're thrilled to share with you some more of what we have in store for character progression. This week we will be introducing the purely magic Legendary paths but first, we need to understand how casting spells work.
Magic in Avallen
For those that seek power, magic is a dangerous tool.
Mages and Mystics learn spells from magic schools, though anyone can cast a spell if it's contained within a scroll made by an experienced scholar. Spells are flexible in nature and can be often used for multiple purposes. For example, Mystics can learn from the Elemental school of magic, which lets you manipulate air, water, earth, and fire. The first spell in the school is Bend Element and it reads as follows:
"Bend Element (3): Change an elemental aspect or attack with one to deal 5+Attribute+Spirit physical damage."
Form a bridge of earth to cross a gap or sling a firebolt at a foe all with the same spell. Where non-casters have the capabilities to tackle challenges directly, Magic-users can often find creative solutions to problems with their spells. As you'll see, however, spells are limited by your supplies and can be just as dangerous as falling short of a jump or mistiming a parry.
Casting a spell is a loud process that requires being able to move—it's generally obvious when someone is using magic. Casting a spell also requires sacrificing something, which is usually done by having a portion of your caster's supplies turn to dust. Rumours speak of dark casters sacrificing others to fuel powerful spells... But those are just rumours.
Spells default to affecting a single target that you must touch but you can increase a spell's range and scope by heightening it. A heightened spell can be cast at a distance and affect multiple targets or even an entire area. Turn that firebolt into a fireball! Be warned though, the more a spell is heightened the more disadvantages you will have when casting it and the more dangerous it will become if you fail.
You can advantage yourself when casting spells by spending time to focus on it, using a magical item called a muse (such as a symbol of power or an arcane tome), or by having an ally assist you in casting it. By working together you can cast truly powerful magics.
Some spells can be maintained over time using concentration, such as the second Elemental spell, Don Element, which coats you in armour made from your chosen element. You concentrate on a spell each turn by spending an advantage on it in the same way you would for a spell you are trying to cast, for example by using your focus or a muse.
Paying the Price
If you fail to cast a spell, you and anyone assisting you will suffer magical damage that can break your equipment, strain you, and even kill you. Each spell has a backfire value that determines how much damage you take when you fail to cast it and it is doubled if you critically fail. The value is increased when you heighten the spell. The example spell shown above, Bend Element, has its backfire value of 3 listed in brackets next to the spell name. More powerful spells have a higher backfire value and so are riskier to heighten.
This is why spellcasters often choose to wear ornate robes with magical symbols sewn into them instead of armour. Caster's robes protect against magical damage more than leathers and metals, allowing them to use more dangerous spells at the cost of making them vulnerable to conventional weapons.
Magic Legendary Paths
There are three purely magic Legendary Paths: the Magister, the Druid, and the Bard. Let's see what they're all about!
Itri delves into his mind, reality unfolding, magic flowing into form. The situation is dire, but he had foreseen the outcome and prepared a spell the evening before. Despite the ropes that bind and gag him, Itri casts the spell effortlessly. The Magister and his companions slip through the void between this world and the next, vanishing before their captors' eyes.
The Magister is the unique path of the Mage and studies spells to make them more powerful. When you study a spell you spend study points to heighten it in a particular way, then you can cast that spell without any of the disadvantages usually granted from its heightened power. Magisters can also heighten spells in novel ways, such as casting without talking and moving, or using dangerous magics that don't harm allies. This makes the Magister the most powerful spellcaster, if they have the necessary foresight.
The Raxian people have a weak connection with the Otherworld and are more comfortable with logical and reasoned magics so their Magisters are prized officials for both politicians and generals. Whereas in Vallic culture, Magisters are seen as obsessive or mad casters who use unnatural magics to beguile their enemies and enchant their allies. Regardless, following the path of the Magister will see you become a legendary master of magics.
Eilir relaxes, the wind creaking branches, the sun nourishing leaves. While on the mountainside, her companions appreciate the shelter as well as the one less mouth to feed. Now it is night, she feels the approach of unnatural beasts with her outstretched roots. The Druid casts a spell with a shower of spores to awaken and bolster her allies. Then bark and leaves shift to fur and claws, and Eilir howls at the moon to greet their foes.
The Druid is the unique path for the Mystic and can learn to shapeshift into four different forms: the bird, the rodent, the predator, and the tree. However, you should travel light or shapeshift carefully as your possessions will be left behind when you do. Each form has particular strengths, with the rodent being adept at sneaking for example. This makes the Druid a spellcaster who can play many roles and adapt to any situation in the moment.
For the Vallic, Druids are revered priests, independent of the clans, who advise leaders by communing with the Otherworld to find the will of the Ever-Ones. For the Raxians, Druids are feared werefolk who are said to stalk vulnerable communities. Following the path of the Druid will see you became a legendary shapeshifter and a bridge between this world and the next.
Taliesin concentrates, layering music, weaving magics. His song grows in intensity, with a mix of melodic spells that wrap his allies in powerful enchantments. With a great crescendo, he ends the song in a surge of aethereal energy, knocking their foes down. Taliesin improvises a short witty ditty to commemorate the victory and his companions chuckle; the group's legend will spread far and long thanks to the Bard's ballads.
The Bard is the path shared by the Mage and Mystic and has access to all the magic schools but specialises in concentration spells. Using your Bard's song, you can easily maintain the magics of multiple spells. As your song builds in layers it enhances your own abilities, though you can also end it in a crescendo for a potent effect. This makes the Bard a spellcaster that is excellent at empowering allies and smothering foes.
Unlike the other casting paths, Bards hold a similar reputation in both Vallic and Raxian culture. They are known as wonderous entertainers, insightful historians, and tricksy magicians who know all kinds of spells. Many rulers understand that words are more powerful than swords and do their best to have Bards sing songs that praise them. Following the path of the Bard will see you become a legendary storyteller with a breadth of knowledge that rivals the greatest of libraries.
Those are the three purely magic legendary paths! The Magister, the Druid, and the Bard. What excites you the most about them? We want to hear what you think, so come let us know over on Discord or Reddit:
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time when will we go over the four remaining hybrid paths that rely on a mix of martial and magical prowess: the Fae Touched, the Primus, the Maleficus, and the Drith-Pict.
- Team Avallen