Tuesday, March 4, 2014

World Building in 30 Days – Magic – Source - Word Magic

Following up on the Will Magic article we talk about the second source, Word Magic.

Word Magic

  • Rune magic
  • Symbol Magic
  • Naming
  • Music

Words have power in the real world. It only makes sense that a world filled with magic would have words of magical power. The first reference to Word Magic, comes from the naming of the Umbla. Anrica gave True Names to all things, his children followed this practice, as did the Gawds and the Mortal Races. The Somatic components to spells are a form of Word Magic. Certain magical practices involve inscribing runic symbols during the ritual process. Protection from... spells I am looking at you here. <DM Glares> Explosive runes, Glyphs of Warding, Power Word Kill, and Magical Items etched with symbols are all examples. Music is a bridge between magics, both Word Magic and Emotion Magic.


High Level mages use True Name Magic. Witches and Warlocks use it to inscribe their cauldrons and magic circles. Artificers use it to imbue their creations with magic. Binders and Conjurers use it in summoning circles. Dwarves and crafters use it to activate their Magical Items. Every holy symbol in existence is Symbol Magic used to store Will Magic from a Gawds Believers. Bards use it to fuse their music and to syphon off the emotions during a performance or strengthen the emotions in their targets.

How? Mechanics

Symbols drawn correctly and using the proper medium; and syllables uttered in the correct intonation, cadence and pronunciation tap into the stored power of the Weave. As long as the requirements are met the symbol acts as a battery providing a conduit for the magic to flow. Different combinations yield different results. This same method can be used to alter the gray of the world.

Pros: This adds flavor and a reason for all that mystical writing and symbol drawing. One effect per symbol means a constrained system. The chance of failure due to the more potent symbols being more complex constrains characters.

Cons: You need a name, symbol or method for describing the differences between all these symbols/words.

Origins of the idea: Bible, Nordic Legend, Socrates, Rumplestilskin

Examples in Gaming: D&D Spell Lists

Example in Media: True Names and Artificing in the Kingkiller Chronicles, Westiel's bowl etc. in the Noble Dead Saga, Swords in Complete Book of Swords, Spell Forms in the Sword of Truth, True Names in Earthsea, Dragonslayer


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