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The Tides of Magic


The Tides of Magic

Magic is an integral part of any sucessful fantasy campaign. It captures the imagination- the fantastic becomes possible, and the unprobable becomes everyday.

Oftentimes in fantasy worlds raw magic itself is viewed as pure, chaotic energy that only performs visible feats when harnessed by a talented spellcaster. If the raw power is so unpredictable, however, then why should spells always be so predictable themselves? This is where the tides come into play.

In the campaign setting of Audalis, magical energy is (loosely) governed by the tides of magic. Raw magic is divided into two major categories- positive (drawn on primarily by good spellcasters) and negative (drawn on primarily by evil spellcasters). Neutral mages fall somewhere in the middle, except in the interesting exceptions noted below. The tides are entirely independent of each other- i.e., if the potitive tide is high, this does not necessarily mean that the negative tide is low.

Centuries of careful study, research, and observation have allowed the mages of Audalis to predict, with decent success, the wax and wane of the tides. Nevertheless, the chaotic nature of magical energy can suprise even the most venerable archmage. Unpredictable spikes and sags in the magical tides can mean a suprising burst of power, or a somewhat disappointing fireball.

Basically, the tides follow a calendar similar to the lunar schedule that governs the Earth's oceans. The biggest difference is the fact that the cycles often vary slightly in length, which leads to occasions when both tides are either high or low.

This leads us to the aforementioned exceptions.

Occasionally, when both tides are very low, neutral mages will have unexplicably powerful magic. On the flip side, when both tides are very high, neutral mages may find their magic very weak indeed. Usually, though, mages of neutrality possess power of a measure between that of good and evil.

 

Here's what all of this means, in game terms:

 

  • Tide is normal: no effect.
  • Tide is rising: saving throws vs. any magical means at +1, occasionally cause spell damage at +1 per die (though no more total damage than normal max)
  • Tide is at peak: Spells function at one level higher than normal (along with saving throw bonus)
  • Tide is falling: saving throws vs. magical means at -1, opponents save at +1
  • Tide is at neap: damage done by spells is at -1 per die(though never less than 1 on any die),
  • along with above penalties

Rules for 4e D&D
  • Tide is normal: No effect. Casters may make a Knowledge: Arcana check prior to casting to know how the coming tides will effect their rituals.
  • Tide is rising: Rituals based on Arcana may take half as long to cast and last twice as long.
  • Tide is at peak: When using a power with the arcane keyword, roll a d6. On a result of 6 the power gains the reliable keyword until the end of the current turn. In addition the DM may occasionally increase the damage of arcane powers up to +1 per damage die.
  • Tide is falling: Rituals based on Arcana may require 1.5x casting time or additional components.
  • Tide is at neap: DM may occasionally decrease damage done by powers with the arcane keyword by up to -1 per damage die, though never less than 1 per die. Arcana based rituals may have a DC increase up to +5.



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Thanks to Olan Suddeth for this contribution!

 


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