Magic of Tregarde
Rules note: For Tregarde, I use the ‘Recharging Magic’ variant presented in Unearthed Arcana and the D20 SRD. For those not familiar with this system, you can find it here: link In essence, most spells when cast will lock out that spell level for a certain duration; spontaneous casters retrieve use of their spell slots faster than those who must prepare spells. Once the cooldown of the spell level is done, that spell level is available once more. Spells are not lost when casting, so you can theoretically cast spells all day, with brief pauses between castings. Spells with durations are usually on a different, specific cooldown timer; these spells do not trigger the general cooldown, but instead recharge over the course of their timer. Mage Armor, for example, has a 6 hour cooldown regardless of caster level.
Magic in Tregarde comes in five varieties, although the final type, psionics, is often debated as non-magical; to the layman, the fact that
The first variety of magic is those frequently referred to as Beastly Powers: Spell-like and supernatural abilities. These usually tap into the same power that arcane spells do, but are not in and of themselves arcane; Rather than working within or against a recharge system, spell-like and supernatural abilities are limited by their daily use limit, if any. These were first introduced in the Dragons of Tregarde, the very first ‘mortals’ to walk the earth. These effects are activated, not cast; as such, there is no language requirement for their use, beyond what might be required in the effect itself.
After the Beastly Powers come the Divine powers: Divine magic in general. Any power that is granted by a greater being is considered to be a divine power, though with the cosmology of Tregarde, divine rank is not required to be able to grant divine spells; many of the most powerful fey, outsiders, and elemental lords are able to grant spells as well. Unlike in most other campaigns, divine magic is granted entirely at the sufferance of the provider: as a standard action, a divine provider can remove up to his charisma modifier in prepared spell levels from a petitioner using the divinity’s power to cast spells. Up until quite recently as mortals mark the passage of time, divine magic was the only real magic accessible by the majority of the races. Divine magic is usually cast in the form of a prayer specific to the culture of the caster. The knowledge of what exactly they need say to activate the spell comes partly from training, and partly from the will of the divinity granting the power.
After Divine Magic, we cover Arcane. Discovered a less than two thousand years ago by what became the first arcanist (there is much debate as to whether he was a sorcerer, and thus had his magic kindled by the dragon blood flowing through his heritage, or a wizard and thus able to produce effects by the twisting of the threads of ambient magic) with the most simple of magic effects: Starting fire. This minor prestidigitation is often the first spell arcanists learn, either because of its ease or as an homage to the first arcanist. How arcane magic works is often explained as so: essentially, there is a pool of energy that surrounds everything; it’s produced by events, the flow of the cosmos, the activities of every living being; it pools in certain locations, and flows in others… and it can be touched by those capable of doing so. Some arcanists take this theory a step further and state that arcane magic is raw magic, that divine magic is just arcane magic refined by the divinities and channeled down to petitioners. Regardless of any of that, arcane magic is often the simplest to tap into without outside aid, which is why it usually is what powers innate abilities. It is also the easiest to lock into place, making it the preferred energy for magical items, wards, and enchantments.
Where divine magic is often cast in the form of a prayer, arcane magic is typically a much more personal system: elves, for example, tend to form their spells as poems using the elven language; dwarves typically use runewords; humans have an entire language set up by the more pretentious mages of the third empire as a way to prevent the spread of magic to those they felt were not deserving of its power. Arcanists decide which language (or languages, if permitted by the Dungeon Master) they cast spells with; any caster they encounter who also knows that language gains a +2 circumstance bonus to spellcraft checks when rolling to determine if they can figure out what spell is being cast. Even though spells may be cast in a vastly different manner from person to person, each spell has a certain feel to it; a fireball has a certain mystic resonance regardless of who or what may be casting it; invokers aware of and focusing upon the caster are able to feel that mystic resonance, allowing the spellcraft roll.
Shadow and Psionics:
It is often debated as to which of the next two forms of magic came first: Psionics or Shadow. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll cover Shadow Magic first.
Shadow Magic is an indirect result of the discovery of arcane magic: when arcane magic was first discovered, the elves sent ambassadors to the humans to learn it in exchange for knowledge that the elves had. Many of the elves were for the idea of arcane magic and the mingling of cultures… but many were not. War erupted between those who wanted to stay reclusive, and those who sought to become involved in what they saw as the best Art of all. The war was long and vicious, but int he end those who scorned magic lost the battle; recall, if you will, that at this point divine magic had ceased to flow with the absence of the Divinities; therefore, those who scorned arcane magic were without any magic at all, and therefore at a serious disadvantage. When the dark elves fled, they formed various dark pacts to seek vengeance, redemption, justice… their reasons were many, but the result was all that mattered in the end: access to a form of shadow power, an energy that coexists with arcane magic, but is not arcane in and of itself. This shadow power is best known for being used by the drow shadowcasters, although enough time has gone by that those who were interested in shadowcasting have either stolen the secrets from dead drow casters, or discovered it through their own efforts. Shadow magic is considered to be similar to arcane magic, and generally follows the same rules; effects that interfere with arcane magic interferes with shadow magic, and vice versa. Shadow magic is cast using the Penumbrian language, a language taught to the dark elves by denizens of the Shadow Realms. As far as casters know, there is no other language it can be cast by; However, it has been noted that shadow effects do not require spoken words. It seems to be enough to think the words. Shadowcasting uses the same cooldown system as spontaneous casters, with one twist: Shadowcasters can channel their magics easier by letting the chill of the shadow realm flow through their body with more intensity than any arcanist has ever felt. In essence, they can take two points of subdual damage per level of the effect to reduce the cooldown of an effect by one round; multiple rounds can be shaved off by taking more and more damage. This damage cannot be avoided, and cannot be healed by magic, only by rest. In addition the recharge reduction must be declared in advance before the recharge die is rolled; if you roll lower than the number of rounds you intended to shave off, you have no recharge on that effect level but still take the full amount of damage.
As a note, shadow magic is affected by magic resistance as normal.
Psionics came about as a direct result of the fall of the Third Human Empire: a corruption of corrupted pools of magic, plus the mystical backlash caused by the destruction of so many magical effects across the world all at once caused many children born in the following few years to be mutated. Most of those calibans died shortly after birth or were killed by distrusting townfolk, but a few survived. Some were very easy to spot, but for others, the only difference between them and the average humanoid was the ability to use mental powers to influence reality. Influence reality is the key term here: Psionics tend not to change reality, but to tweak the laws of reality. Where arcane magic can create a burst of flame from nothing, psionics summons ectosplasm and ignites it. The effect is similar, but the methodology is different. Because of this, psionics do not use the recharge system. Instead, all psions have a pool of psionic strength points, which recovers at a rate of 20% of their current maximum pool per hour of complete non-psionic use. Even maintaining a psionic effect keeps these points from recharging, although being under the effect of a psionic power does not, as long as it requires no concentration on the part of the person affected by the power. The only limitation on psions, other than running out of psionic strength points, is that the same power cannot be used two rounds in a row. Each individual power has a one-round recharge time between uses; each power, not each power level. A psion could use two different second level psionic powers back to back, for example, but could not use inertial armor two rounds in a row.
As a note: Anyone with magic resistance has equal amounts of power resistance, and vice versa; dispel magic works against psionics, as dispel psionics works against magic; however, spells cannot be cast as counterspells against psionics (or vice versa) no matter how close the effects are. The exception to this rule is dispel psionics/magic, as normal.