What is it that happens when we’ve come to the end of our 5 questions?
We ask more questions!
It isn’t exactly a profound answer, but it is honest. In a moment, I’ll sum up the skeleton we created through these questions. If you find yourself using the words “but…”, “what about…”, “what if…”, then you’re in exactly the right mindset. As you continue to answer the questions that your system breeds, you’ll hone it to greater and greater specificity!
First, let’s sum up.
Our magic comes from a supernatural source. It is now literally a gift from the gods. Furthermore, it is exclusive. Only select individuals are blessed with the gift. We’ve also established its power is sufficient to take on 5 average warriors at once, but we also decided that its minimum impact will effect 3 which may potentially harm people the caster does not wish to harm. This includes the caster himself. So, in order to protect himself from the dangers of wielding these difficult to control powers, he must tattoo one-shot protective runes on his body. Unfortunately for him, this means that when space runs out, ensuring his protection from the very spells he wields becomes exceedingly difficult. Finally, the methods for wielding spells are 1) incantations, 2) rituals, 3) imbued relics, or 4) some combination of the three. The specifics are dependent on the god whom that person derives their power from.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let me share some of the ways this system is fleshing itself out in my mind.
First of all, an individual is chosen by the god… whether they like it or not. Imagine answering the door one day to find the enemy of your people’s patron god. Pack your bags. You’re her new errand boy!
And let’s not forget these wonderful tattoos that keep us alive! How does that work exactly? Each rune is a symbol corresponding to a god in the pantheon. As some gods are more powerful than others, so too are the protections given by those wards. This can work to your advantage if that god is an ally, but should their be a falling out you might find yourself stripped of your armor. Terribly inconvenient if you hadn’t been informed. There is also a more general tattoo invoking an alliance of gods, but they have proven ineffective in the past. Largely because a god in the alliance must first notice it, and then choose to respond with a little power. Obviously, some gods are better about that than others, but are you willing to take that chance?
To take it further, there is no real outward signal to tell you whether your runes have been used. I take that back, walking out of a pillar of flame is very clear. It’s the not so noticeable attacks or charms that might leave you exposed. This makes it incredibly important that you set a regular appointment with your deity as they are the only one who can tell you how many are still effective. Let’s hope you he can get you in! And yes, it is considered wise to have several active at a time. On a side note, why wouldn’t I try several little spells to wear down my enemies defenses? It’s simple. You’re very likely wearing down your own at the same time.
Finally, regarding the method. It simply depends on your god. Casting a spell might be highly impractical like having to repeat a 20 word incantation in Ancient Sumerian three times before it takes effect. It may be something against your moral standards. Say a requisite visit to the brothel before you can cast a spell. And maybe it’s very simple, which may or may not work to your advantage. Imagine trying to live day to day while having to avoid the use of many common words such as sleep or burn. Have a Thesaurus handy? This is something that could lend itself to something serious and thoughtful or laugh out loud funny. I’m sure you can add your own ideas for gods and their whims. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that the god you serve might give her servants different methods for the same spell. Isn’t their room for a little favoritism? Just be wary should she get a little fuzzy on the details.
That should give you a good idea of where things can go once you have the basic structure decided upon. I hope you have as much fun as I have playing with the possibilities!
Next time, I’ll run with these ideas a little more in hopes of showing you places where the world becomes story. Things that move from the reality of the world to the perceptions of its inhabitants and how that creates their story. Cheers!