It's hard to get the right tone for magic. I think any GM knows that. A game requires rules and regulation, which inherently saps some of the wonder and mystery out of things.Lately I've been going through all my books of myth and legends, locating any mention of a human wizard/witch/magician casting spells, and writing them down, just to get an idea of what ancient or medieval peoples thought a powerful spellcaster might have been able to do, to get the right feel. And tonight I thought I'd share what I've got so far with you.If you'd like to add your own, feel free, just remember the limits: myth and legend only, human spellcasters only. I'm working on a separate list of spells "historical" magicians thought they could actually cast, or were accused of casting.
>>23598601>Animating a corpse as a vessel for a ghost who will tell you secrets of the past, present, and future>Animating human-shaped figurines by breathing on them and reciting spells, to act as servants or guards>Bewitching a man’s eyes so they see things that are not there>Brewing a potion of forgetfulness>Calling up storms>Calming rough seas>Calming storms>Chanting spells of protection that will see you safely through a battle>Commanding a pair of eagles to peck out a man’s eyes>Commanding the trees to fight for you in a battle>Conjuring up a spirit and binding it to your will>Conjuring up a spirit to fetch you an item you could not otherwise acquire>Conjuring up a spirit to transport you very quickly in a short amount of time>Conjuring up spirits to serve you a banquet of illusory food that does not fill you up>Creating a potion that causes the people who drink from it to fall in love with one another>Creating a potion that will bestow all worldly knowledge>Creating an unguent that, when applied to the eyes, will allow you to see fairies through their glamour>Creating noodles that, when ingested, turn into venomous snakes inside your victim’s stomach>Creating the illusion of an entire fleet of warships>Drawing an unbroken circle on the floor about yourself as a means of magical protection against unclean spirits>Enchanting a knife to fly through the air, seeking the heart of an enemy>Enchanting a patch of toadstools so they look like a dozen stallions in golden harnesses, though in time they will revert to toadstools>Enchanting a person so that they desire you>Enchanting a person so that they will not seek out the bed of another>Enchanting one man so he looks like another>Flight>Having visions of the future>Hearing anything spoken into the wind within your domain
>>23598706>Laying conditional protections upon a person or item, so that they may only be harmed/defeated/killed/etc if those conditions are met>Permanently creating a living, thinking woman from a pile of flowers>Playing music that compels horses to dance, unseating their riders>Playing music that compels people to dance, against their will>Putting a building full of people under an enchanted sleep>Quenching a roaring fire as it consumes a building>Reciting a spell that causes manacles and locks to spring open>Reciting a spell that causes people to like you and view you as a friend>Reciting a spell that quenches the hatred in men’s hearts>Reciting a spell that turns edged weapons blunt>Reciting an insulting poem so potent it causes the insulted man’s face to break out in boils>Reciting spells to raise freshly dead warriors to fight for you>Reflecting harmful magic cast with a wand back upon the caster>Removing your soul from your body and placing in a large, nigh-indestructible iron ring>Seeing through the eyes of an animal, even though you are many miles away>Speaking and understanding the speech of birds and beasts>Speaking and understanding the speech plants, stones, the wind, and other natural forces>Striking a person blind>Striking a person deaf>Stripping a person of their ability to speak>Summoning invisible, intangible spirits who wield real axes to attack your foes >Summoning your ancestral spirits to help you complete a task
>>23598740>Transforming a person into a pool of water>Transforming a person into a swan, to revert after a set period of time passes and specific actions are taken by the transformed person.>Transforming an army into ants so you can sneak into a fortress undetected and conquer it from within>Transforming yourself into a boulder for protection and then turning back again once the danger has passed>Transforming yourself into an animal, yet retaining your own mind>Transforming yourself into living fire to scorch your enemies, at the risk of burning yourself away>Turning a man into a marble pillar, but only from the waist down, leaving his upper half alive and mobile>Turning a person to stone>Turning two brothers into animals, one male and one female, and then forcing them to mate with one another to produce offspring before turning them back, so that the offspring will remind them of their common shame>Weaving a toy horse from straw that can turn into a real horse on command And that's all I've got so far. I'd welcome any suggestions or additions.
Circe could turn people in animals.
>>23598601>what could spellcasters do in myth. Anything. Magic, psychic powers, the force are all deux ex machina to allow the storyteller to confer any abilities he wants a character to have under whatever artificial constraints he wants to give. You have shape-changing, djinn building cities overnight, infinite riches, living forever, resurecting from the dead, etc. Magic has always been lazy writing.
>>23598997Yeah, I think you missed the point of this thread. It's not about the mechanics, it's about the flavor.
>>23598997The list lacks geas, aka unnatural compulsion or prohibition to do certain acts under pain of extremely bad luck or other negative consequences.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geishttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_magical_staveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runic_magic
>>23599122It's sort of up there, just with a focus on the protective aspects:>Laying conditional protections upon a person or item, so that they may only be harmed/defeated/killed/etc if those conditions are metI was specifically referencing the stories of Gwydion and Lleu Llaw Gyffes.
>>23598997it's worth remembering that beside the magic of myth and legend, there were (and are) people in the world who claimed (and claim) to have real magical powers, and people believed them. this wasn't just "writing" to ancient people, but something they believed was a real part of the world.of course, these magicians didn't generally claim to be capable of flying or building cities overnight (people could call bullshit on that pretty easily), but things like divination, necromancy (in the sense of speaking with the dead), shamanism, ect, are all 'real' forms of magic.
>>23599173Indeed.As I said in the OP, I'm actually working on a separate list of spells in that vein. Obviously by no means comprehensive, but I'm trying to pick out stuff that could be interesting or fun to use in a game. The stuff I posted above is from myth and legend because I specifically wanted to go with the more outlandish, fantastical stuff that people of the time might have believed was theoretically possible, perhaps in their own distant past. Mainly because that stuff is just lots of fun.What I find especially interesting though, is the way magic is used offensively in traditional stories. you don't get wizards who throw lightning bolts or fireballs. If you piss them off, they just turn you into something unpleasant, turn themselves into something big and strong that can kill you more easily, or summon spirits/demons to kill you for them.
>>23599165Cuchullain had the death one-on-one match spell which essentially was a geas, and a geas he cast at ath nGabla, when impaling four heads on a branch which forced an army to stop and not be able to cross due to supernatural fear until another hero removed it, destroying seven chariots in failed attempts.He also was the target of a lot of geis himself, which were not about protecting him at all.
>>23599255So evocation being underpowered in DnD has historical roots?
>>23599255So, the ultimate killing spells of mythology are flesh to stone and baleful polymorph?
>>23599293Maybe offensive geis were more of an Irish thing? Can't think of many Welsh ones.
i'm not really familiar with the legend surrounding king arthur, but i always wondered: what were merlin's powers? i consider him the archetypal example of the D&D-style wizard but i have no idea what kind of magic he was actually known for.
>>23599385Merlin primarily had prophetic visions, but he also cast an illusion on King Uther, making him appear as the duke of Cornwall, put a man to sleep by touching his forehead, could change his own shape into that of a terrifying monster, and taught Nimue the spells necessary to imprison him, depending on the version, inside a stone, tree, or castle in the sky.There's also a later legend that claims he created Stonehenge, using magic to move the massive rocks.
>>23599385Truth be told, the archetypal DnD wizard's powers aren't really based on myth so much as they are on a mix of Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" books and Gandalf.Of course, Gandalf is largely inspired by Odin, who at the very least gave us the classic wizard uniform of robes, staff, and a hood or floppy, broad-brimmed hat.
>>23598706>>23598740>>23598815So what you're telling me is that wizards are ridiculously unbalanced and we should be allowed no saving throws against magic?
>>23599510aside from the outfit, i'm not sure any part of gandalf made it's way into D&D wizards. so much so that they had to make another class later (the invoker) to suit the role of "magical agent of the divine, except not like a priest or anything".
>>23599636that's the way mythology works.
>>23599173Notice how it's old spinsters or men who never started families who are shamans, witches, etc. ? These are folks who lacked familial support and sought aid from their communities by mongering imaginary wares like cursing your enemies, health blessings, protection from faeries, communion with your lost loved ones, etc. Whichever forms of such deception are most popular and instituted (practitioners allying into societies to adopt and regulate members) develop into shamanic castes, false face cults, priesthoods, etc. So by one body of examples magic is the practicion of charlatans who haven't organized a temple yet. On the other hand, folks like Crowley started secret clubs as a means of feeling important. As they attracted like-minded people (who also wanted to be important) this led to much fracturing into smaller secret societies and higher levels of secret societies within the original organization as everyone insists, "me and my clique are way more secret/powerful/important than you and your clique". Don't name this category of magician lest you give them power.
>>23598601Adding to the list >cursing people to be mauled by bears > holding the sun and moon in the sky to extend a day > Outrunning horses in a race> Witholding rain for years at a time > Parting large rivers to cross them> Having birds and beasts provide food for you > stretching out food supplies for many or for a long period of time > Causing armies to panic and flee at sounds in the night.> Striking enemies with plagues
>>23599755god is not a wizard
Is modern magic acceptable?>Haitian bokors are noted for being able to steal a man's soul and turn him into a zombi, who is compelled to labor for him.>General Butt Naked used human sacrifice to gain the power to become invisible.>Rasputin was reputed to have to power to change people's thoughts, gained via sexual congress. Also, nigh immortal.
>>23599755Don't forget turning a stick into a snake.
>>23599774That fits more into the "stuff people were actuality reputed to be able to do" category and not so much the "myth and legend" category but if you want to post it, knock yourself out.
>>23599774The Red Lanterns of the Boxer Rebellion could fly, throw fireballs, and become impervious to bullets.
>>23599770No, referring more to the exploits of various prophets as "magical"
>>23599849strange how you generally have to look east to find someone who can throw a simple fireball
>>23599719In Ancient cultures the general difference was mercenary impulse. An oracle of Apollo who predicts the future? Totally fine. Some asshole who if you pay him a few coins he'll make you a love potion or curse that guy down the block you don't like? Run that fucker out of town.Except in Egypt. I was reading a book on Egyptian magical beliefs/practices, and it's a popular theory amongst egyptoligists that magicians weren't really persecuted in that society in the same way they were in others, because magicians and the priesthood were almost indistinguishable. You went to the temple, paid the priest, and he'd do all the stuff a magician would do as well as all the stuff a priest would to.
>>23599849I've only ever heard the bulletproof shirt thing with them.
>>23599909>oracleThe oracles were girls raped and drugged by old men who pretended the gibberish they rambled while high were prophecies vaguely revealing the fate of whoever made a donation. Spell-casters aren't persecuted in general with the exception of some rivals who hate competition like the Catholic church. As for Egypt, their temples were companies as much as anywhere else. One of the Pharoahs (think it was Ramses) declared there was only 1 God and defiled many of the temples, making worship of any other god but Ra illegal. This went on for round twenty years before the high priests got him overthrown. Even today shysters are believed as our entire financial system is predicated on trading debt owed to the Rothschilds as currency.
>>23599980Psst. "300" is not a historical documentary.
>>23599980It was Akhenaten (previously Amenhotep) not Ramses and the one God was the sun disk or Aten who was kinda related to Ra. Also he just kind of dicked off and founded his own city and when he died his son decided the whole Aten thing was some bullshit and returned the status quo.
>>23600090>300I came to that conclusion independently. Greeks will tell you how virgins were delivered there, overseen by a priesthood, and kept in a basement, high on drug-fumes, while the priests would come by getting buzzed at most. You seriously think they never fucked the girls they lived with? You honestly believe the ramblings of someone while their tripping are prophesy?
>>23598601>medieval peoples thought a powerful spellcasterThat they were just a bunch of stupid supersticious fools.
bump cause i think it's an interesting topic
>>23600246And yet, they were the people who created a lot of the stuff we base our hobby around. What does that say about us?
>>23602344That their ignorance and superstition was a lot more interesting and stimulating than our day-to-day lives are.
>>23602375Ignorance and superstition triumph over modern civilization once again!
>>23599774>Rasputin was reputed to have to power to change people's thoughts, gained via sexual congressThat wasn't magic, that was just having an amazing penis.
>>23603144BEHOLD GLORIOUS PENIS OF RUSSIA
>>23603622That is likely a fake.What really strikes me as odd is that Rasputin's daughter kept talking about her dad's 13 inch dick. His daughter.
>>23603670So, whose penis IS that?
>>23600214So by coming to a conclusion independently you mean you're basically just making shit up.
>>23603730Its not a penis, its a geoduck.
>>23603730I think it was found with some Russian ex-pats in France. So either some other Russian, some French, something they took off a well hung man on the journey (bitches be crazy, kill a man so they can say they have Rasputin's dick), or actually Rasputins.The previous fake was actually a sea cucumber or something.I know too much about Rasputin's dick.
>>23603828I am sure there entire books full of Rasputin dick-lore.
>>23603144Rasputin, king of NTR.
>>23603945Pretty much, as the story goes.Maids love him? Check. One apparently stole his penis.Queen loves him? Check. Apparently listened to him before her husband, the czar.Court loves him? Check. Even the guy who killed him cut off his dick in agony over never having it again.
Inlike to create a different skill for each type of magic. Arcane divination, arcane conjuring, divine conjuring, divine evocation, etc. You can know a lot about a specific type of magic, or a little about magic in general, but nobody knows everything about magic. Three 'arcane casters' could watch each other cast for months and have no idea what the other is casting or how it's done. All magic becomes an unknown. Match it with a house rule that forbids both players and dm from directly naming a spell or effect they're using and only allowing thrm to describe the effects (except to the DM via note), and suddenly nobody knows what kind of witchcraft their party is involved in. Are they consorting with heretics? Who knows?
I think we should archive this thread. It has valuable research material that tells us what wizards were thought capable of in history.Plus Rasputin dick.
>>23604738I think you should rearrange those lines, sir. I know there is more wizard info, but the dick is more important.
>>23604813You are correct, but there are so many wizard dick threads already.Archived.