Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sword and Sorcery Notes part Eight

Are divine spell casters necessary?
With regards to my Sword and Sorcery notes and general question about the Game and its design in and of itself, I find myself wondering if divine spells as a category are necessary. I find myself not being to keen on the divine/arcane divide. Much of this has to do with its implementation I suppose.
I get the arcane thing. Literature is rife with magicians of one stripe or another. No matter the origin of their knowledge or the manner of spell casting, there are clearly arcane spellcasters. There are fewer literary references to 'divine' casters. More or less the lines are blurry in literature. They are less clear and less often used but I know those types of casters are there (from solomon kane to those dudes in the game of thrones.)
In any respect, I think if divine casters were to be included, then a whole new paradigm would need establishing for them. Also, the spell effects and such would need changing.
The spells would come from a divine source. They are not learned in the traditional sense. They would not be forgotten. They could be exclusive and even particular. They would reflect the will of the divinity and be subject to its desires or whims. The divine casters abilities would almost be innate.
Or I could just ditch them all together and lump all 'spell casting' into one great category with subcategories for specialties and such.
As a game mechanic I like the latter approach better. I can not distinguish a divine fire from an arcane fire except in its origin (and color I guess if I so chose). I am speaking technically, in game, a fire is a fire is a fire. A lot of times the spells are actually only distinguished by name and not effect (with minor casting time variations etc).
Also, I have never like the 'squad medic' role of the cleric. In fact the whole 'squad' approach does not work in an sword and sorcery setting.
The more I think about, as I am writing this, I am liking the idea of dropping the divine caster from my home game. I remember Mac made a comment a few years back about how the divine caster did not feel right in my game and I should drop it or merge it with the arcane caster.
Well Mac, consider them merging.


Yora said...

My campaigns and homebrew setting are very strongly Sword & Sorcery inspired, and I don't really see a meaningful effective difference between arcane and divine magic either.
In the setting, spellcasters fall into the categories of witches, sorcerers, and shamans, but their differences are really just in their specializations. The Conan RPG simply has a "scholar" class, and two of most recent favorite videogames, The Witcher and Dragon Age, don't make a difference either. Magic is just magic.
If priests do have magic, they are simply mages who also serve gods. Their training and theory may be based on the religious teachings of their tradition, but it's still their own work, not divine intervention.

Davis Chenault said...

I think i am going to drive the two together and break it up like you have done and use specializations.