Magic System

The unique One Ring rules set invites tinkering and secondary creation. Whilst The One Ring works brilliantly as written, we provide this forum for those who want to make their own home-brewed versions of the rules. Note that none of these should be taken as 'official'.
Glorelendil
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Magic System

Post by Glorelendil » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:24 pm

I'm contemplating a design for a magic system for TOR, and I want to catalog all examples of "spells" being used in the source texts. Does anybody know of such a compilation already existing?
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Terisonen
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Re: Magic System

Post by Terisonen » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:36 pm

We can help :)
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Kurt
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Re: Magic System

Post by Kurt » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:48 am

I'd be interested in seeing this. I was thinking of doing some research myself, but I was going to look at historical pagan and medieval practices as a guide.

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Re: Magic System

Post by Stormcrow » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:16 pm

Middle-earth magic isn't really systematic, and it doesn't resemble historical pagan or medieval practices. A lot of it has to do with force of will used at a distance and telepathy. A lot more has to do with superhuman artistic ability. Some of it has to do with the efficacy of curses and oaths.

And I've never seen a complete catalog. People find the obvious stuff, like Gandalf throwing lightning bolts or speaking Words of Command but they miss the subtle stuff, like how Gandalf uses his will to help Bilbo give up the Ring, or how Frodo loses a song-battle with the trees of the Old Forest, out how Gandalf's "perception filter" drops when he is putting his will against Denethor's.

If you're going to try to put this all in a system, I'd say the first principle is that there is no difference between magic and mundane; it's all a matter of degree. The magic of Art is about subcreation as a reflection of the Creation of Ilúvatar. The magic of Will is about inspiration perception, and domination. The magic of Oaths and Curses is about stature, ownership, and rights.

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Robin Smallburrow
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Re: Magic System

Post by Robin Smallburrow » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:22 pm

Glorelendil

When you ask 'Source texts', exactly what do you mean here?

My "Magic in The One Ring" supplement (in my Resources page) attempted something similar, so I don't see the need IMHO, given I spent hours and weeks on this, compiling it from every mention of magic I could find in Tolkien, and 'secondary sources' such as MERP, Decipher etc.

Zedturtle has also compiled an excellent Magic system (with a different emphasis) that I recommend you could also use as a starting point to compiling your own.

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Kurt
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Re: Magic System

Post by Kurt » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:35 am

Stormcrow wrote:Middle-earth magic isn't really systematic, and it doesn't resemble historical pagan or medieval practices.
I was thinking about historical pagan rituals and medieval practices because it has that grounding in realism and would provide me with guidance for narrative purposes. It would help me with some answers to some questions that I and my players may have when they encounter NPC's in the game. For example: Mab the Spinner - Why does she have a reputation as a witch? What rumours are going around? Have people seen her doing strange and unnatural things or performing rituals? Why is she so good at healing? Another example: What is it that makes The Sorceress of Mirkwood a sorceress? What does she look like? Would there be symbols and markings or unnatural things at her dwelling? What would be her powers and how would they manifest?

So it's not for my players to cast spells or be wizards, but rather to help me narrate something that is interesting, helps players visualise a scene and makes sense for the Middle-earth setting.
Stormcrow wrote:People find the obvious stuff, like Gandalf throwing lightning bolts or speaking Words of Command but they miss the subtle stuff, like how Gandalf uses his will to help Bilbo give up the Ring, or how Frodo loses a song-battle with the trees of the Old Forest, out how Gandalf's "perception filter" drops when he is putting his will against Denethor's.

If you're going to try to put this all in a system, I'd say the first principle is that there is no difference between magic and mundane; it's all a matter of degree. The magic of Art is about subcreation as a reflection of the Creation of Ilúvatar. The magic of Will is about inspiration perception, and domination. The magic of Oaths and Curses is about stature, ownership, and rights.
I like this - I like it a lot actually.

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Re: Magic System

Post by Stormcrow » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:22 pm

Kurt wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:35 am
I was thinking about historical pagan rituals and medieval practices because it has that grounding in realism and would provide me with guidance for narrative purposes. It would help me with some answers to some questions that I and my players may have when they encounter NPC's in the game.
What Tolkien was constantly doing was not drawing upon medieval paganism or anything like that; he was interested in taking folklore and myth and translating them into more serious and deeper things. Fairies living in magical mounds and going out to dance in fairy rings in the forest become the Elvenking living in magnificent caves under a hill, guarded by magic doors, and he and his people feasting in clearings in the woods. The concept of Faerie, as a place, goes from a vague get-lost-in-the-woods-and-you'll-be-there kind of idea to a specific island in a specific place with a detailed history. Wizards aren't just old men casting magic; they become angelic messengers sent by the gods to aid Middle-earth against the Shadow. The concept of a magic ring, common in folklore, obtains a very specific origin in the Rings of Power invented by Sauron. Elves don't turn into thimble-sized fairies; they visibly fade as they decline, which is why we don't see them much today.

Use this as a foundation, not real-world beliefs and practices. Using the principles I outlined earlier, base any magic you come up with on (mostly) English myth and folklore, giving it an "origin story": the real account, which has since been corrupted until all that's left today is a fairy tale.

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Re: Magic System

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:59 pm

Stormcrow wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:16 pm
Middle-earth magic isn't really systematic, and it doesn't resemble historical pagan or medieval practices. A lot of it has to do with force of will used at a distance and telepathy. A lot more has to do with superhuman artistic ability. Some of it has to do with the efficacy of curses and oaths.

And I've never seen a complete catalog. People find the obvious stuff, like Gandalf throwing lightning bolts or speaking Words of Command but they miss the subtle stuff, like how Gandalf uses his will to help Bilbo give up the Ring, or how Frodo loses a song-battle with the trees of the Old Forest, out how Gandalf's "perception filter" drops when he is putting his will against Denethor's.

If you're going to try to put this all in a system, I'd say the first principle is that there is no difference between magic and mundane; it's all a matter of degree. The magic of Art is about subcreation as a reflection of the Creation of Ilúvatar. The magic of Will is about inspiration perception, and domination. The magic of Oaths and Curses is about stature, ownership, and rights.
Yeah, this is along the lines of what I've been thinking. Magic would be more like common skills, in that each "school" is a general category that can have a lot of different meanings. In the same way that you might be able to use Inspire or Song to achieve the same result, you might be able to use different schools to accomplish the same goal by different means. First you think of what you want to achieve, and then you try to find a way to apply your own magical expertise. The LM adjudicates, of course.

I haven't been thinking about this the last couple of weeks, unfortunately. Been working on Version 9 of my Delving rules. "Best Version Yet" and all that.
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Glorelendil
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Re: Magic System

Post by Glorelendil » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:00 pm

Robin Smallburrow wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:22 pm
Glorelendil

When you ask 'Source texts', exactly what do you mean here?

My "Magic in The One Ring" supplement (in my Resources page) attempted something similar, so I don't see the need IMHO, given I spent hours and weeks on this, compiling it from every mention of magic I could find in Tolkien, and 'secondary sources' such as MERP, Decipher etc.

Zedturtle has also compiled an excellent Magic system (with a different emphasis) that I recommend you could also use as a starting point to compiling your own.

Robin S.
Oh, then maybe you have what I was looking for. I'll take a delve. Thanks.

I mostly meant from Tolkien's writings; I don't really care what MERP and Decipher did, and not sure I want to know, honestly.
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Terisonen
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Re: Magic System

Post by Terisonen » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:15 pm

MERP magic was not fitting in Middle Earth.
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