Thursday, May 13, 2021

Language Slots as Flexible Spells; Or: A Different Sort of Wizard

Dredged from the draft pile (176 strong at the time of writing this):

Ok so it's a bit of this:

& a bit of this:

& a bit of this:

THERE is a sort of wizard, maybe they're just one sort among many, or maybe they're the only sort in the world. These wizards see beyond the dross of matter and energy, essence and substance. Rather, it should be said, can you see this matter? Taste this substance? No, of course not - not directly - there is the raw experience: colour, texture, flavour, etc., and then the language that mediates that experience into something we can comprehend, contextualize: red, rough, spicy. It's a three-step process: the inconceivable reality => the perceived qualia => the world, our world, built within and between ourselves with language.

These wizards concern themselves with that third step - the easiest to change. Not easy by any means, but changing a language might always be easier than seeing a new colour.

These wizards can change it because the what they can speak aren't technically languages - not in the everyday usage. They aren't used to communicate person-to-person. They can speak directly to the universe, like a salmon swimming up a waterfall, reversing the natural course to alter inconceivable reality through their words.

A whole lot of fluff to say: every spell these wizards know takes up a language slot, and they cast them by speaking.

"Dude, whoa?!!" you might be saying to yourself, aloud, as you're reading this, "Wouldn't that be overpowered if you could cast Fire Ball the 3rd level spell from Basic Dungeons & Dragons™ just by speaking??!". No. Well, maybe it will be overpowered, but you wouldn't be casting any fired balls. Instead each slot would be what I am calling a "flexible spell".

So: Scrap Princess's post linked above has the idea of new classes made from one class's mechanics and another's aesthetics. This post is essentially about a hypothetical class with the aesthetic of wizards and the mechanics of a class that doesn't actually exist: the item-haver.

Roll on a table of items. Maybe the udan-adan one linked above, maybe a one of your choice. That's your spell. Give it a fancy name or something, but really that's it. Your spell can do anything that item could do, in the amount of time spent to cast it. If you're attacked or otherwise critically distracted trying to cast it, test concentration or it fizzles out. When you stop casting the spell any ongoing effects stop.

Do you have a rope spell ("Binding of the Immaculate Serpent")? Would it take you two rounds to cross the room, tie a noose around a goblin's neck, and lift them up to the rafters? There's the time for your casting, and then after that you'd have to keep casting to choke them.

Simple. Easy. Elegant.


  1. This is... very interesting and potentially very flavourful. I can see a wizard singing in the snow all night long to keep the party safe from the cold... and being very glad that they rolled "Item 34 Exceedingly Warm Blanket" as their spell. This would also mean that voice care would become culturally relevant and even a signifier of power, since your voice is now your weapon... or your "Item 13 Shabby Shield" (or your blanket). How would this work with consumables though? If it does work at all, that is.

    1. I think most consumables would work fine. A vial of oil-spell could make things slippery, make them flammable, whatever, a food-spell could temporarily stave off starvation or attract hungry monsters, and so on. Gets tricky if you add in potions or other magic gear though.

  2. I can see two interesting flip-sides to this:

    1. Roll an Interesting Item. You start with an Exceptionally Magical version of it.

    2. Roll an Interesting Item. You aren a Specialist in everything involved with that item.