Right, terrible pun aside, I have been thinking about types of magic in the setting. Which also, it occurs to me I should name. I have been thinking of the types of magic, and one of the things I would like is there to be different types of magic that work in different ways. I would also consider them being different levels of complexity, so people who like complex system engagement can play something complex and people who want to be a magic user but not use one million rules can play something easier but just as effective. So, I have been thinking of different types of magic and how to use them in play.
1) Everyday magic.
Everyone in the setting who has been initiated as an adult has access to the magic they got initiated into. This should be very simple and useful for everyone. My intention is that everyone can do this type of magic. The rules need to be easy, but I do want it to be broad ranging and effective. Basically, a call on for if you are doing something related to your initiation.
2) Shaman magic.
I have a plan for there to be a spirit world, where there are beings who emerge out of natural phenomena and animals
Basically, this magic will work out of a number of things, and will be the most social of the power sets. A shaman will have a fetch spirit, that gives him or her some powers reliably. They will also be able to bargain for more information and power from other spirits. Spirits like somethings done for them in the material plane, and if you are willing to do the work for them, they are willing to trade you some power. Since anything sentient can become a god, and spirits are sentient, there are some powerful spirits out there and if you can get their favor there is power to be had. This would be the magic user to play for someone who likes to get their magic through talking and tasks.
3) Priest magic.
A god talker can channel the magic of their god. They gain an easy route to more magic if they do. Almost everyone chooses a god who is their favourite and gets a little bit of power that way, but some people take the unusual step of giving their praise to only one deity and becoming a priest or priestess. These people get more power and deeper revelations from their chosen god, and in return agree to live by the strictures of their religion.
This type of magic will give the user a set of well understood and conceptually linked abilities. A priest of a war god will be able to bolster the will of warriors with him or divine things about a battle. A death priest will contact the spirits of ancestors, and curse the living (fun people!). This would be the easy version of a wizard for people. They would get to know in advance what they can do in a general sense and then do it repeatedly. They would be magic, but they wouldn't have to do anything too hard.
4) Wizard magicThe last type of wizard I am thinking of is an actual, wizard wizard. I want them to be practitioners of a weird sort of occult science. I think here is where I would reserve the more complex mechanics that would mean the character would be doing deeply weirdly little rituals to gain power. These people use the fact that the world is full of magic to direct that magic intentionally and willfully. This is your weirdo sorcerer.
This would be the most mechanically complex sort of character. I am thinking something along the lines of there being a need to generate enough power to do the sort of thing you want to do, either by being at the right time, place, spending some willpower or having items and sacrifices that correspond to the effect you want to achieve.
Group/ritual magicAll of these types of magic can be done as a ritual using more time and more people. I will be writing a little sub system for how much time and effort it takes to get you a larger effect. Basically, something that gives you a bit of a way of modelling the big effects that magic seems to always be doing in settings but magic systems tend not to model well.
It will work a bit like this:
1) How powerful is the effect you are working towards?
2) How well suited is your magic to it? If you are using the wrong sort of magic you will need to work harder.
3) How long will it last? Longer lasting magic takes more power.
Add up all these factors to see your target. You then generate points to meet your target. You get these by:
1) your personal skill. Being skilled means you can do more.
2) How many assistants you have. Communities of assistants have a magic of their own, and that means if you can get a lot of people behind your magic then you get a lot more oomph.
3) Do you have sacrifices that are appropriate to the spell? Valuable and rare magic parts can be brought together to give magic a bit more oomph, meaning if it is something sacred to the deity being invoked or a sacrifice to high level spirits. These sacrifices can help buy off some of your factors.
4) Are you going to take a very long time about it? A hermit sitting in a hut and praying the sacred names of his deity every day for fifty years can get a lot more done than if he had just started casting yesterday.
5) Not getting quite what you want. Getting extra downsides. Basically, you can give your magic some quirks and get it a bit cheaper.