Moving DW Magic to SW

On the one hand magic is the one thing that is probably most cumbersome to port from DW to SW, on the other hand only one member of my group uses magic at all, a Mystic, and so the only rule set that I have to ‘translate’ right now is for this ‘class’ to a SW-compatible format. For the others I can pick and mix from existing SW Arcane Backgrounds. As I GM a very low-magic DW (a setting which starts off pretty low fantasy anyway), encounters with magic are few and far between, in fact off the top of my head, apart from the occasional witch or hag, the only magical opponent the party has really had to deal with so far is Lóegaire Óengus, a darkness elementalist whom I was planning to turn into a demonist anyway.

Before I turn to the ‘other’ arcane backgrounds, I want to get a word off my chest about  clerics and paladins. And that word is “No”. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a believer myself, or whether it’s a question of logic for me. Legend, the DW setting par excellence, uses a pseudo-Christian religion called ‘The True Faith’ as the standard religion of the western lands, with trappings of paganism hanging on in the less ‘civilised’ areas such as Ereworn and Thuland. The original DW rules don’t incorporate a standard fantasy RPG miracle caster. There’s rumours of a new priestly class in the upcoming Players’ Handbook from Serpent King Games, but they’re saying that even this will be spell-free. No, if my priests are going to have any supernatural powers at all, it will be things like exorcism, creating hallowed ground and the like. Ritual-based and not really what your average player will want to deal with, but will be allowed to if they really want to.

Regarding the other arcane backgrounds, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Triple Ace GamesHellfrost setting. Their rules on Hedge Wizardry, Elementalism and Heahwisardry will need barely any modification whatsoever to fit right in. Hedge Wizards can go 1:1 – I love their rule mechanic for finding ingredients and making potions etc. As I’ve only ever had a darkness elementalist NPC, I have zero compunction about adopting the HF Arcane Background: Elementalist without much change – though using power points rather than Siphoning. Heahwisards get re-skinned as Selentium Alto Magi – a.k.a. Sorcerers. As none has ever made an appearance to date in Albion this doesn’t affect my campaign at all and their formal hierarchy just feels right for this setting.

I guess this is where making a universal adaptation of DW will break down, as others will already have their DW elementalists, sorcerors, warlocks and the like.  All I’m planning on doing is providing an equivalent rather than SW rules for re-creating the DW classes.

That leaves some sort of druid (a spell-caster type that I always felt would fit in quite well in Legend, though with a few mods to make it a bit more gritty and celtic – perhaps with a bit of advanced Hedge Magic thrown in), elven song-magic*, which I’m intending to make a powerful form of cooperative magic, and a few other bits and pieces which I’ll probably do on the fly (I’ve even got half a scenario floating around in my mind featuring as idiot savant elven mage causing all sorts of problems in a town that the party happen to be traveling through). Then there’s rune magic, something that the dwarves can use for generating powerful magic items, with the Thulanders and Mercians having a more flexible on the fly system. There’s an excellent d20 magic supplement that I want to use for this: Bastion Press’ Spells and Magic – one of the best magic supplements I have ever come across and one which I would heartily recommend to any DW GM; I’m just waiting for a chance to use a Mirror Mage some day!

*It should be noted that Legend is far from other fantasy settings where non-human races abound. Elves and dwarves were incorporated at the outset, ‘because that’s the way it is in fantasy RPGs’, but they were always very rare and nearly always NPCs or even enemies. There are elves in my Legend, but they seldom interfere with the lot of mortal men, more a faery or fee folk at the edge of our reality. On the other hand I have allowed dwarves to creep in as a mountainous mining folk. There’s even one in the party, but he’s worthy of a post all to himself, paradoxical as he is.

My take on the mystics will (probably) be the next entry here…

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About Lord Karick

I’m a Christian, a father, a husband, a biochemist (PhD), a photographer, a gardener, a lover of good rock music, food wine and beer, an ex-pat, a lousy pianist and a patent examiner.
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3 Responses to Moving DW Magic to SW

  1. alex says:

    This all sounds pretty sensible to me. I have Hellfrost – must check it out again.

    Mystics might be a tough call…

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