Just to be clear, I enjoyed Harry Potter as much as the next guy, but magic in Cosmothea is quite different than in other stories, settings, and games, and not just for the sake of change. We’ve kicked it up a notch, offering a new spin on an ancient concept that I think you’ll agree is a pretty cool concept once I unpack it. You just might want to try running a Cosmothean shaper or adept when the game comes out, or take it for a test drive in one of our playtest Play-by-post games!
Since the earliest days of developing the setting (we’re talking 1979), I’ve gone off the beaten path to develop a new feel for magic and provide cool support gear for wielding it; gear that’s not just functional, but also impressive to behold. My goal was and still is, to make mages not simply some guy or gal in a robe with a wand, but an icon whose very presence intimidates. Wands were replaced with racassas and f’lantii, offering a much broader range of visual themes and mechanical benefits than wands have offered in games you may be used to.
Now, if you are the type that can’t imagine a mage not reading from a spell book and waving a scrawny wand at your opponent, this might not be your cup of tea, but there’s a lot of personality and cool options in the game and setting that might change your mind, and honestly, if you want to pretend your mage is like Gandalf or Harry, I won’t tell if you won’t! But hear me out first, if you would be so kind, as you just might want to run a mage in an adventure before shelving the concept for breaching tradition this once. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
A power template replaced the classic spell book, and shards fill the role scrolls do in games like D&D. I never got why anyone would put such important information on a piece of paper! As if it could hold such power! I think power templates make a lot more sense, but I know I’m stepping on toes here. Sorry, but until you’ve tried Cosmothean magic, I ask you to give us the benefit of the doubt or try it out for yourself. We really don’t hate spell books or wands, but I think most will like the new way of doing things (Btw, if you haven’t guessed yet, the pic on this blog shows what all the gear looks like that I’ve been talking about, well, one particular way that gear can appear in the game, anyway.)
The support gear can appear like almost anything you can imagine; enabling you to create a mage that perfectly embodies the theme you are going for. The same goes for spells, miracles, enchantments and super powers. You define their appearance. Together with the gear and the nature of Cosmothean magic, you walk away with a clean system and a magic wielder that’s exactly as cool and functional as you want.
I covered a few of the basics in one of my earliest blog posts, but here’s an excerpt for those of you who missed it:
“Thousands of years ago, Shapers discovered the flesh-tainting side effects of wielding magic, and many fell to the Withering, before learning how to channel their power through floating templates. Arcane repositories that safely bare the bulk of a mage’s power, arcane templates store runes and formulas needed to shape magic, and enable their owners to customize and expand their options. Though mages have advanced to the point of being able to efficiently use magic, it is still an art form and there are many mysteries surrounding its nature.”
Magic dueling has also been taken to a new level in Cosmothea. In addition to the normal flow of combat, if two or more mages are in battle, they can enter a duel that transcends the normal battlefield, manifesting guardians and launching magical champions to assault another mage’s template, causing a wide variety of special effects and hazards.
I’m not sure why many game companies form a simple and sometimes bland backdrop for the nature of magic and how it functions, but magic can be so much more interesting than what a lot of games are offering. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the system over the past 3 decades, and yes, by some who once loved to use wands. There are a few magic systems out there that are pretty nifty with some personality, and I know that no one can please everyone, but we’ve continued to tweak and improve the system over the years, and it has been shaping up nicely. I think you’ll like it!
Here’s a quick overview of the most notable magic gear:
Power Template: The primary tool in every mage’s arsenal, this device floats along beside the mage and swings into view when needed. Storing the bulk of the mage’s power pool for safety reasons, the template also stores the necessary runes, notes and other useful elements needed to perform magic. Whether an arcane template for a Shaper, a divine template for an adept or a forge for an artificer, a template is a very valuable asset, and offers a variety of features. One can open up a template and swap out components to improve efficiency and options. It’s not uncommon for a mage to hack into a fallen mage’s template after battle in hopes of salvaging something, though such devices can also be rigged to discourage tampering.
Racassas: While not required to use magic, they assist in accurately releasing magic and sometimes provide additional support. While they all have a handle of some sort, they can otherwise look like anything from a bladeless sword to an arcane gun. And some have mounts for light weapons.
F’lantii: These small cubes of power can be mounted to a racassa to increase a mage’s options.
Shards: Power shards can store spells for later use. Etched on the surface of a shard are the runes needed to shape the magic stored within. Most power templates have holders for shards for convenient access.
More on the magic system later. Cheers!