2013-12-23 : Some Basic Rules (iv, revised)

A Play Module: Plasmic Spellcasting (after Vance)

Determination, Patience & Endurance
Flexibility of Mind

A spell is a minor plasmic creature you can, with proper training and sufficient preparation, hold within your mind. Casting the spell means prodding the plasmid out of the comfort and security of your mind, to vent its irritation upon the physical world. A spell's effect is the tantrum of a discommoded plasmid.

Your mind can, at one time, host a number of spells derived your Flexibility of Mind, thus:
Flexibility of Mind 1: 3 spells.
Flexibility of Mind 2: 5 spells.
Flexibility of Mind 3: 7 spells.
Someone with no Flexibility of Mind can conceivably host a single spell with a Plasmic Magnitude of 1, no more, but will not normally do so.

Starting Spells
You begin play with your full selection of spells already at home in your mind.

As you'll see from the section below on learning spells, this is a blessing.

Casting a Spell
Casting a spell requires you to make your mind temporarily inhospitable to it, which requires you to defeat it in a flinch challenge. Roll your Discipline & Training against its Plasmic Magnitude.

If you back down, you discommode the spell only a little. Cast it with 0 degrees of motivity, but it resettles itself in your mind with no expenditure of motivity required.

If you flinch, you cast the spell, but without maintaining any control over it. Cast it with a number of degrees of motivity equal to your loss plus 2, but the spell itself chooses how to spend them, as well as making any other decisions required.

If it flinches, you cast it, with a number of degrees of motivity equal to your win plus 2.

Spells are constitutionally incapable of backing down. The option of backing down is off the table for the GM.

If you do not resettle the spell in your mind, it departs you. It will not be drawn back into your mind and after a few minutes it returns to its natural plasmic home.

Spellbooks and "Learning" Spells
There are two circumstances under which you can draw a spell into your mind.

The first is when you encounter a plasmid already homeless. It is in this world, not its own natural plasmic world, and yet it is not safely and comfortably homed in a wizard's mind or magical object. This is a very rare occurance normally, except when you are in the presence of another wizard who has just cast a spell.

If the other wizard casts a spell and does not resettle it in her mind, you may steal it with no roll or significant effort, provided that your mind is flexible enough to accommodate it, and not already stuffed with spells of your own.

If the other wizard does resettle the spell in her mind, to steal it, you must defeat her in a race challenge, your Flexibility of Mind against hers. In case of a tie, the spell returns to her, its original home.

A spell isolated in this world will return to its own plasmic realm after only a few minutes pass. If there's a question, the GM should have you go up against the spell in a race challenge, your Flexibility of Mind against 1, 2, or 3, at the GM's call, based on the time that has already passed.

The second circumstance in which you can draw a spell into your mind is when you entice a spell away from its home in its natural plasmic world. To do this requires a precise and encyclopedic knowledge of the particular individual plasmid's nature, needs, impulses, and proclivities. This undertaking requires many days' seclusion and labor, so undertake it only when you have the time and leisure to do so.

A written spell, then, is a thorough description of the process you'll need to undertake in order to draw the spell out of its world and into your mind. To follow the process, make a Determination, Patience & Endurance test against the spell's plasmic magnitude.

If you win by 3 or more, some occult compatability aligns the spell's nature with your own. It takes residence in your mind, and further, mark the spell with the tag "accommodating." See each spell's listing for the effect of this.

If you tie or win by 1 or 2, you have made your mind more attractive and comfortable to the spell than its own home, and it takes up residence without further complication.

If you lose the roll, the spell takes residence in your mind anyway, but does not fully settle itself there. Mark the spell with the "unsettled" tag. See each spell's listing for the effect of this.

Magic Items
Physical objects - wands, amulets, diadems, spectacles, and so on - can be prepared so to provide homes for spells' plasmids. Rules to come.

An Example Spell

Spell of weightlessness
Plasmic Magnitude: 1
You exchange the normal weight of your physical body and trappings for a weight much reduced. This affects the weight you apply to surfaces on which you walk, the effort required to carry you, the danger and harm you suffer when you fall, and so on.

Spend Motivity:
To resettle the spell in your mind:
0 with the tag "accommodating"
1 normally
2 with the tag "unsettled"
3 to remove the tag "unsettled"

For duration:
0 for a few seconds
1 for a full minute
2 until you choose to dismiss the effect

For weightlessness:
0 for the weight of a cat
1 for the weight of a marble
2 for the weight of a feather
3 for the weight of a passing breeze

For the subject:
0 yourself and all that you carry
1 someone or something you touch with your hand, and all they carry
2 someone or something you name aloud or indicate with a gesture, and all they carry

Excess motivity:
At the GM's judgment

Further Spell Listings
In the comments!

Discovering a New Spell
In principle, given unlimited time and resources for research, a wizard could discover a new spell with practically any desired effect.

Before you can discover a new spell, it must exist. Since you're looking for a spell with a particular effect, you're the one to begin its listing:
- Name it. "Spell of ___."
- Briefly describe the effect you want.
- List its categories, not their particulars, for motivity expenditure.

An Example of a Preliminary Listing

Spell of Utter Discernment
You can see invisible things, see spiritual things, hear the thoughts in people's heads, weigh the beating of their hearts, judge the qualities of objects you can see or touch, see the outlines of things hidden around you.

Spend Motivity:
To resettle the spell in your mind.
For your new powers of discernment.
For their limits.
To avoid being overcome by the bizarre sensations.

Now pass your preliminary listing over to the GM. GM, complete the listing:
- Give it its Plasmic Magnitude.
- Give it its particulars for motivity expenditure.
- Throw in a wrinkle, if you think of a good one.

Be sure to include:
- Motivity expenditure to resettle the spell in your mind.
- Effects for the "accommodating" and "unsettled" tags.
- A note that spending excess motivity is at the GM's judgment.

- 90% of spells should have Plasmic Magnitude 1. 9% should have Plasmic Magnitude 2. Only 1 in 100 should have Plasmic Magnitude 3.
- A spell cast with 0 degrees of motivity should still have an effect.
- Most of the time, expect the spell to be cast with 3-5 degrees of motivity. 7 is basically the maximum.

This completed spell now exists in its native plasmic environment, and retroactively always has, but no wizard has yet discovered how to entice it therefrom into her mind.

To discover how to entice it into your mind, make test on Determination, Patience & Endurance, against its Plasmic Magnitude. Making this roll requires you first to undertake a full year's costly research.

If you win by 3 or more, you discover how to entice the spell into your mind. You now host the spell, and you can compile a written spell text from your notes if you choose.

If you tie or win by 1 or 2, you are on the verge of discovering how to entice the spell into your mind, but you have not done it yet. You can add 1 to your roll by spending another six months in costly research, until you win the roll by 3.

If you lose, your year is wasted. You may try again if you have another year and the resources to spare.

More to come. All subject to change.
Special credit to this G+ post by +Bobby Martin.
Special credit to the comments here, especially to Plausiblefabulist's.

Some Basic Rules (i)
Some Basic Rules (ii)
Some Basic Rules (iii)
Some Basic Rules (v)
Some Basic Rules (vi)
Some Basic Rules (vii)

1. On 2013-12-23, Vincent said:

It turns out, Plausiblefabulist, that I stole from you instead!


direct link

This makes...
PF go ":-D"

2. On 2013-12-23, Judson said:

Are passers-by encouraged to supply spells in the comments?


3. On 2013-12-23, Vincent said:

Judson: If you're inspired to!

You can write a complete spell yourself, or else please feel free to use the rules for discovering a new spell (just added, above).

Anybody who feels like it can complete my Spell of Utter Discernment, for instance.


4. On 2013-12-23, Josh W said:

"He was a man of great determination but little flexibility, and so was not a welcoming host to more than the most basic of plasms.

He jangled with clasped jars and vessels of various kinds, a supersessionary compensation for his overabundance of rigor. When faced with an unfamiliar situation, he would pat through his clothes in an old and practiced routine, peering at the various labels and notes he had left for himself, until he found something appropriate. This was a habit quite useless for all but the least pressing of problems, and so a solution was generally found before he could reveal the fruits of his vast learning."


5. On 2013-12-25, plausiblefabulist said:

This is great!

I love the social implications of the ease with which you can steal other wizards' spells. An additional spell-caster in an adventuring party is immediate cause for tension! Masters are secretive about what they cast, even around their own apprentices! This is really excellent stuff, and maps really well to real hermetic traditions.

Now the idea of the plasmids as creatures is really vivid.

Another couple of riffing ideas/wishlisty stuff:

1) It would be interesting if the plasmids began to develop some individuality through play, like NPCs of a certain limited intelligence. So when you first isolate a spell, you know what it does, but you don't know, for instance, how it might spend its self-motivity on a casting flinch. But as play goes on you notice that this particular plasmid is timid, or playful, or vengeful, or diabolically cruel, or has a twisted sense of humor—or at least, that's what it looks like to us, consistent with its alien nature and the difficulty it has perceiving our world. Maybe it's not even as obvious as that—maybe it just has a habit of making shiny things float if it can, and we dont know why. But I like the idea of making notes of how the spell acts, and carrying this forward through play.

2) I like the way you built move design into spell research, I think that's great. The "it takes a year" cost feels a little flat. Somewhere else you said that "expenditure of time" was a load-bearing component of the move, and you wanted to find another way of doing that. Since "So I spend a year in research" / "Okay, what are the rest of you doing during that year?" is somewhat unexciting, I'm hoping that cost will end up unfolding into something more story-generative, like "and you, Turmin the Enchanter, notice that the dead man's fingers are covered with a blue gel." "A blue gel? A BLUE GEL?? I ransack his library." "What are the rest of you doing while Turmin's ransacking?" "Is there anything valuable?" "Sure. You divvy it up. Turmin?" "WHAT DID I FIND?" "The trail is cold, but it's definitely the plasmid you're looking for. It's back in the ether though. But there's a note in the drawer that indicates he sent a manuscript to his cousin Peredir in Nonemore." "Okay, guys, sorry, I have to go to Nonemore now." "WHAT? Dude, Turmin, we're on a quest!" "Quest schmest! I'm going to Nonemore! You can come or stay behind!"

or like that.


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