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Modular spellcasting

by Jeff Daly

The scholars and sages who studied magic in the time of ancient Blackmoor's rise, looked at their predecessors with almost as much disdain as the modern spellcasters of Alphatia look upon those scholars and sages of Blackmoor. So-called "traditional spellcasting" in their view, was slow, clunky and inefficient. They felt that a new casting paradigm had to be engineered, in order to fully access the power of the universe. For, after all, the universe was built on order, and given the proper methods, great things could be invoked.

"He who sets about to study our ways, must completely reject the lazy, abstract manipulations of tradition. He must set his mind to a more object-oriented approach, and nevermore consider memorisation of spaghetti-magic, like the Magic Missile."
--Franklin Snerdly, Modular Magician, circa 3000 BC


The mages of Blackmoor were well aware that magic resides in all things. Further, they realised that magic was held in some things, more than others. For instance, it is unquestionable that anything which lives and moves, is more filled with magic than a lifeless rock. Thought, Matter, Time, Energy, and that enigmatic substance "the soul" make up the magic of life. On the opposite end of things, Entropy strives against life, forever locking its own magic in an eternal struggle with its counterpart.

While their basic assumptions told them that magic was in all things, the best way to begin summoning magic, in order to manipulate the cosmos, was within. Summon all the magic in your immediate area into yourself, shape it as you will, and let it fly.

In practice, the language of magic derived from ancient Blackmoor worked much like any other language.


Just as in spoken language, the scholars of the day devised a system of names and constructs to describe what they did in their invocations.

--Object: The world is made up of objects. The obvious ones are physical. A body, a book, a sword, an opponent, lightning, all of these are examples of physical objects. In addition to these, there are abstract objects: the mind, the soul, knowledge, language, sound.

--------Properties: All objects have properties. All physical objects have name, substance, height, and weight. All objects have specific properties as well, far too numerous to mention. An example would be the self object, with the following properties:


Okay, you get the idea. There are many, many properties. If you think of the object as a noun, and the property as an adjective, it might be a little more clear.

------------Methods: If objects are nouns, and properties are adjectives, then methods are verbs. This gets down to the actual power. When a mage invokes an object's property, what is it he is actually doing? That is the method.

With Self
(strength spell)

With Self
      .Magic.Summon = Ball..Exploding.Fire.Throw

With Self
(Throws a blast of magic from the caster. Low damage)

The one that needs explanation is fireball. Here, the mage is summoning magic, to do what? To create another object, a ball with the property of fire. When we get into adding properties of duration, range, and actual damage, we get into a higher level of complexity.

As modular spellcasting became more and more popular, a young archmage came into power, calling himself "Temporal Gates" (more on names, and special names, later!). He was a prodigy, and as such often found himself studying alone. During the course of his studies, he discovered a terrible truth regarding a certain conjunction of stars, and the presence of traditional magic. The very nature of traditional magic, caused it to be extremely volatile, and possibly quite fatal, given the upcoming conjunction.

This so-called "Year 3000 Bug" was laughed at by many, and feared by some...but no one recognised the full extent of the problem...

Because the Blackmoor Device had been bound by both traditional and modular spellcasting, it was especially susceptible to problems...


"Great Piranhas of Fire!"

Not related at all to Y3k, is the situation that involved Gates' death. He delved deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the cosmos, in order to hopefully prevent the dreaded day from occurring.

It was known to practitioners of Modular Spellcasting, that strange errors sometimes happened when a mage attempted something beyond reason, and sometimes when the something was perfectly reasonable... Usually, the effect was no more harmful than a little scorching. Little was known of precisely what caused these errors, beyond the fact that they occurred often, and randomly.

Whatever it was that Gates was attempting, his apprentice saw him mouthing words, as if speaking to someone. Suddenly he cried out the words that would become a cliché, "Great Piranhas of Fire!"

The next moment, the apprentice was looking at a charred corpse, with tiny little bite marks all over it.

The saying, in the latter days, would become the standard oath of a mage who had failed to build a construct. Toward the end, when time was short and the Year 3000 loomed ugly on the horizon, the mages would shorten the saying to "GPF!"