Tag Archives: magic system

World-Building Athron: Spellcraft Skills

The spell system developed for my gaming system for the world of Athron is unique and complex. Early generations of system, in fact, proved to be too complex and the system had to be simplified. The final result is a list of skills accessible by any character: Magical lore, Any Spellcraft, Any Rune Lore, Any Alchemy, Energy, Scroll Lore, Command Item, Item Lore, Minor Magical Lore, Minor Spellcraft. These skills provide the backbone of the magic system as player characters understand it. As far as casting spells are concerned, the most important skills are Spellcraft, Rune Lore, Alchemy, and Energy. These are not singular skills, however; there are different spellcraft disciplines, and rune lore disciplines. For example, one discipline is fire. So, wizardly characters have the option of purchasing any of the following skills: flamecraft, fire rune lore, and fire alchemy. Originally, the energy used to activate these skills was divided by discipline as well. That is, there were separate skills like fire energy, and water energy. Unfortunately, this proved to be too complicated for the purposes of a game and involved far too much note-keeping. So it was simplified to a single energy skill. That cleared up a lot of note-keeping problems and headaches.


I used to have a list of spell disciplines or types somewhere. I probably still do, but I’m just too lazy to find it. Anyway, going from memory: there were the four basic elemental disciplines (fire, earth, water, and air) and a random assortment of others (wood, blood, flesh, bone, soul (conjuration), seer (divination), hell (demonology), death (necromancy)). In the gaming system, I was able to develop the elemental disciplines for the game. I have separate lists of spells, potions, and runes for each of those four spell disciplines. The other eight, however, were never fully developed. I can use the elemental disciplines as a template for the others in the future and get a general sense of what each spell discipline is like, but I don’t have hard-fast details. Fortunately, I don’t need quite so many details for work in a novel that I do in a game. My needs can be satisfied with a few quick notes. So, the spell system in my novels has an open-ended twelve disciplines or so, while the gaming system has a mere four. For the gaming system, the idea was always to expand it some at a later date.


Next week we will begin examining the fire discipline.

Insights into Athron: The Magic System (part III)

Continuing the theme of the magic system in Athron, I’d like to discuss some of the more miscellaneous spellcrafts. Specifically, I’d like to look at soulcraft, seercraft, deathcraft, and hellcraft as these, with the original four elemental spellcrafts, make up the most common spells used throughout Athron (well, woodcraft is pretty common, too, but I’m going to limit myself to just four spellcrafts today).


Soulcraft is primarily the art of conjuring, be it spirits or other otherworldly beings. To a certain extent it crosses over with other spellcrafts. For example, a master at spellcraft might be able to summon a demon (like in hellcraft) or a being of elemental fire (like in flamecraft) or a variety of other such entities. Its uses, except in rare cases (like when dealing with demons) are usually benign. Seercraft is another name for divination magic which, simply put, is: getting information. This can be done by casting stones, scrying through a bowl of water, or what-have-you. Like soulcraft, there is a bit of crossover with the elemental magics. Each elemental form of magic has its own limited form of augury that can be used in a pinch, but to get a thorough reading of some sort requires seercraft. Deathcraft is another name for necromancy. The field originally started as a derivative form of both soulcraft and seercraft. The first necromancers simply wanted to explore the art of obtaining information from the dead. But it soon evolved into a darker thing. Reanimating dead became the central goal of study, and from there all manner of undead were born: skeletons, ghosts, and vampires—you name it; they can all trace their origins back to deathcraft. Hellcraft is another name for demonology. It started as a derivative of soulcraft and flamecraft. The original practitioners had a bent towards evil, so, the focus was on demons and how best to harness their power. But demons are not long to be controlled; what was meant to ensnare the powers of Hell, soon came to ensnare those who sought to use it. Evil has a way of twisting back to harm its practitioner, and hellcraft is no exception. There are actually three different aspects to hellcraft for those who are foolish enough to study it: demonic conjuration, working with elemental fire, and a potpourri of other special effects including minor illusions and similar such things.


Well, that’s all I have to say about the magic system of Athron—at least, for now.

Insights to Athron: The Magic System: Spellcrafts (part II)

Today I’m going to cover part of my spell system in my world of Athron. I’ll begin with the elemental spellcrafts as those are the most common and probably the easiest to come to grips with. First, a word about spellcrafts in general. All magic is fueled by spell energy. Every spell caster has access to spell energy (in the gaming system the amount was determined by the level of skill the caster had in the appropriate spell energy). This energy can be used for three different types of tasks: 1) casting a spell, 2) inscribing a rune, or 3) making a potion. Each spellcraft has its own assets in each of these tasks. The elemental spellcrafts are flamecraft, seacraft, earthcraft, and windcraft. A character with skill in flamecraft, therefore, may be able to cast a fire-based spell, inscribe a fire-based rune, or make a fire-based potion. In the gaming system, all of these were separate skills, as was the general skill of flamecraft. At one point, I even had separate skills for every type of spell energy. For example, you had orange energy for flamecraft, blue energy for seacraft, etc … but I shortly found that that system was a bit too cumbersome for actual gaming, although I still kind of dig it.


Anyway, flamecraft (whether manifested as a spell or rune or potion) involves the manipulation of fire. Although it does not require a pre-existing flame source, it is stronger when one is nearby. A flame wizard with a torch or near a bonfire can be very dangerous. Seacraft is somewhat different. It, too, is more effective when there is a source of water nearby (although it is capable of pulling water right out of the air), but it is not completely inert without it. Seacraft involves the manipulation of water—it need not be salt water or any special kind of water, just water will do. Compared to the other elements, earthcraft and windcraft are almost always guaranteed to have an abundant source of their respective elements nearby. As such, the spells in the retinues of their respective wizards always assume the element to be present. Obviously, earthcraft manipulates earth in all its forms: mud, rock, mineral, and what-have-you. And windcraft permits the manipulation of air, nut just powerful gusts of wind. I have a fair-sized list of spells (I may or may not share these at a later date) for each of these spellcrafts. Likewise runes. And likewise potions. For example, I have spells like Fire Bolt, Continuous Inferno, etc … Readers of my novels may also recognize a few spells that recur with regularity: Earthen Hands, Fire Guardian, Earth Warrior, etc …  All told, the lists give me pretty good variety for the four basic elements.

Insights to Athron: The Magic System (part I)

For those of you who have read my novel, Drasmyr, or my other work set in Athron, to a certain extent, you are already familiar with the magic system I use. Those of you who have not, may still find this information handy and useful. In my world of Athron, I do not set down a precise system of rules with the rigor of, say, mathematics; although I respect other authors who do, like, say, Brandon Sanderson, who is renowned for his magic systems; I don’t provide the same level of detail on its rules. The system is detailed, to a certain extent, over the course of my writing and kind of explained as I go along. One reason for not going into a lengthy discourse on the subject is that it is supposed to be a kind of “parallel science.” As such, the intricacies and complexities are too vast for a handful of pages to delineate. Indeed, it would be too complex for any one individual to handle. I can only realistically discuss the highlights. So, with that in mind, I will discuss a few points about my system here.


I use an augmented elemental system. Basically, I start with the four elements of antiquity: earth, air, fire, and water. Then, I added a few crafts which didn’t fit with those. Each one is a spellcraft. At the time of this writing I have: flamecraft, earthcraft, windcraft, seacraft, seercraft (divination), soulcraft (conjuring spirits), hellcraft (demonology), and deathcraft (necromancy). Those are the main ones, all of which (except soulcraft) appear in Drasmyr. I also have floating on the back burner the following: bloodcraft, fleshcraft, bonecraft, and woodcraft. There is also a field called Derivative Magic, which is basically starting with any two spellcrafts and “mixing” them: for example, wind and earth magic make “dustcraft.” That, of course, would be a very lengthy list. That, I think, covers it; I might have a few more in my notes, but if I do, I don’t remember them as I write this. Anyway, each craft allows the spell-caster to cast spells with very specific effects. It is worth pointing out that the spell system, and in fact the entire world of Athron, were partially developed for use in a pen and paper role-playing game. The game is “in development” and as I am the only person working on it, it will likely remain “in development” for many years to come. I’m really too busy writing to work on it much.


I will discuss specific spellcrafts in more detail in later posts.