Templore Campaign Setting
Magic is a force, unseen yet tangible, which has given rise to empires and laid waste to civilizations. The world would be a very different place without it. And yet, true magic in Templore today is rarer than ever, and most people’s perception of it are clouded with misunderstanding and superstition.
According to various myths and legends, in ages past magic was seemingly much more prevalent. But for reasons unknown (some would say due to a massive cataclysm which brought the world low, or due to the gods themselves turning away from the world) magic and the knowledge of how to use it slowly receded. The actual cause, however, is probably much more prosaic. The decline of the ancient civilizations which pioneered the use of magic is likely a factor. Perhaps time and myth have embellished the full extent of magic’s capabilities. The emergence of new faiths and ways of thinking have given rise to the idea that magic is somehow evil or wrong, and over the centuries these opinions took root in the common folk throughout most of Templore. The average human is not even likely to see true magic in his lifetime, and some have doubts towards magic even existing.
The Arcane Versus The Divine – The True Origin of Magic
What is the true source of magic? This deceptively simple question is the cause of as much debate as any religion or philosophy. Magic can be harnesssed in a number of ways. Some accomplish this by studying complex synergies, which aid them in understanding the magic that is latent in the world around them. Some bargain with supernatural entities and receive a portion of their magical energy. Some rely upon their dedication to a god or higher calling, and are seemingly blessed with divine power in return. Is there a discernible difference between magic harnessed through knowledge and magic harnessed through faith and willpower? If the gods created all that exists, are they not one in the same? The peoples of Templore have found numerous answers to these questions, and yet not all can agree on any of them being correct.
As far as game mechanics are concerned, In Templore there is no discernible difference between “divine” or “arcane” magic. All magic comes from the same source, that source being The Reverie. The Reverie is a separate plane of existence, home to the fey and many other supernatural beings, and the fabric of the plane itself is bent to the will of one who uses magic.
If the material plane in which Urth exists were to be thought of as a coin, then The Reverie would be the opposite side of that coin. The two planes are deeply connected, and natural phenomena which occur in one plane has an equal reaction in the other. For this reason, every time magic changes something in the material plane, there are also repercussions which take effect in The Reverie, and vice-versa. This can have many dramatic effects when magic is used in either plane. Due to the ebb and flow of the planar energies, magic can at times be unpredictable and potentially dangerous to use.
Those who use powerful magics or cause great disturbances in the natural order are prone to attracting the attention of beings dwelling within The Reverie or other planes. These beings may be either benevolent or malevolent, and may seek to cause harm or give assistance to spellcasters who draw their notice. While travelling within The Reverie, spellcasters are particularly susceptible to attack or attachment by magical entities, and risk having their astral forms destroyed or their silver cord severed, allowing more maligned beings to find their body and possess them. Such has been the downfall of more than one priest or magician.
The Mechanics of Magic
Just like fire, water, wind, or any other natural energy source, people have discovered ways to harness the power of magic. Unlike most other natural energies, magic is a very malleable substance, and there are presumably infinite ways to utilize it. Magic can be permanently bound to places, items or people in the form of enchantments. It can be used to create fleeting but awesome effects through the casting of spells. Rituals, which require more time and effort than spells, can have even further-reaching results. Then there are monsters and extraplanar creatures which have their own innate magical abilities, that come as natural to them as flight does to birds or swimming does to fish.
So what allows a being to utilize this power? Presumably, within every living entity on Urth, there are two forms of life flowing within: the blood, the primal physical life force, and another, spiritual force. These two forms of life and energy are deeply connected. Even Urth itself possesses its own veins of magical life force, in the form of ley lines. Just as blood is a rich and potent source of life and sustenance, the spiritual energy which flows through all living things can be tapped for its power by those who wish to do so. Blood, life, and magical energy are all very closely interwoven. It is for this reason that most creatures face limitations when exerting their magical power, and it is no mistake that some of the oldest and most primitive forms of magic involve the sacrifice and usage of blood and life.
The process of drawing on magical energy is performed differently by every practitioner of magic. There are innumerable traditions and schools of magecraft in the world. Some are ancient and can be traced to a point before history, while still others are being created this very day. Some magical teachings are esoteric and steeped in occult lore, using a mixture of ancient and powerful knowledge for one’s own gain. Others take a more spiritual approach, relying on one’s own inner power or that granted by a god (or gods). Some mages argue that magical power has no place in the hands of common folk and magic’s secrets should be shared only by an initiated few, while some go from place to place using their magical gifts to heal the sick and wounded, hoping that some day such knowledge will be common enough to rid the world of pain and suffering.
Magical Texts and Language
Traditionally in D&D, magic is written in it’s own special language, but not so in Templore. Magic is written and spoken in mundane languages. Nevertheless, reading a text concerning magic is difficult to the uninitiated, and requires a certain understanding of the subject material to realize its meaning. If you have ever read through a real-world occult manual, religious doctrine, or advanced mathematics textbook, then you already understand why that is. Mages and esoteric masters are often very protective of their works and sometimes write in code or secret languages to keep their texts from being deciphered, further complicating the matter.
Provided a character possesses at least one rank in Spellcraft, he may attempt to decipher a magical text. Depending on the nature of the writing, additional Linguistics or other skill checks may be required to fully decipher the text. In the case of multiple skill checks being required, all checks must be passed in order to make use of the magical writing.
The read magic spell/ritual grants a +10 competence bonus to any Spellcraft checks made to identify and decipher any magical text, except in the case of identifying glyph or symbol spells/rituals, where the +10 bonus is not conferred. It works in all other ways similar to the version found in the Pathfinder core rulebook.
The read magic sense ability gained from the Divination sphere from Spheres of Power also works in this manner, with the option of spending a spell point to treat a Spellcraft check as an automatic success to decipher one magical text (one scroll, one spellbook, etc.).
The DCs and modifiers for deciphering magical texts are as follows:
|Identify a text as magical (requires 1 rank in Spellcraft)||5|
|Decipher magical text||caster level of writer*|
|Condition||Decipher DC Modifier|
|Text is in a language character does not know||+5|
|Text is written in an alphabet character does not know||+5|
|Text is written in a dead or forgotten language||variable*|
|Text is of a sphere the character does not possess||+2|
|Text is illegible or incomplete||variable*|
Verbal Components and Spoken Languages
Sphere talents, rituals, magic items, and all magical effects requiring verbal components to activate are done so in whatever language(s) the user knows. Therefore a character must pass a Linguistics check to identify these effects if they are used with a language they do not know.