Sunday, November 18, 2012

Variants – Invocation: Magic for Everyone

Some variants exceed the bounds of the base rules set you happen to be using so much that they end up overwhelming the original rules. So this variant, which started out in a really minor fashion, has grown now to the point where it is a significant part of a few classes.

Invocation is the act of calling upon a god or other supernatural being, not with the expectation that they will show up, but with the intent that they will spiritually aid you in some way, which leads to a minor magical effect.

You may wish to note that I am using ‘invocation’ in the original sense of the word, and not in the modern occult sense, which is somewhat different.

This rule has its origin in many other systems, the only two which now come to mind are Mark Smylie’s Artesia and Sword & Sorcery’s Scarred Lands. This rules variant, in complexity, falls somewhere between the two.

An Invocation is a short phrase or poem that is recited by a character to create a magical, though subtle, effect. Any character may use an Invocation, at any time, though the character will only receive a magical effect once per day per level. That is, the character may use the phrase as much as he or she wishes, but will only gains a benefit a number of times of day equal to their level.

A character may know any number of Invocations. In addition, the player must recite the invocation, in character, in order to gain the benefit for the character.

Other than that, there aren't that many restrictions. I expect that some invocations are dangerous to use, either because you are invoking a god unpopular with those listening, or because there may be hidden effects associated with the invocation that the invoker doesn't know about.

As to effects, most should be in the +1 or +2 to some roll or another. Any more than that seems too strong. Also, I think that the sort of minor invocations that I am talking about should always affect either the invoker and/or the companions of the invoker, not the invoker’s enemies. If you want to affect your enemies, use curses, to be covered in a future post. I allow invocations to be used concurrently with normal actions; most of them are short, anyway, and this encourages their use.

Characters can learn Invocations by visiting temples and offering a donation. 100 gp doesn't seem to me unreasonable. Others are learnt from books, and characters can teach each other, as well.

Here are several examples, with the wording of the invocations drawn from history or fiction. Since most of the Gods of the Wilderlands are drawn from history or fiction, deriving the invocations isn’t all that difficult.

Oh Mighty Asa-Thor, who smashed the limbs of Leikn; you bashed ðrivaldi;
you knocked down Starkadhr; you trod Gjalp dead under foot.
Let your hammer guide me to throw down my foe.
Type: Lesser
Effect: This gives a +1 Attack bonus, and if fighting giants, increases the bonus to +2.

Mitra, whose speech stirs men to labor!
Type: Lesser
Effect: This allows the invoker to inspire others to bravery. The invoker’s allies are less likely to desert (If you use the B/X inspired Morale rules, all allies and followers gain a temporary +1 to their Morale scores).

Hermes Trismegistus, bless us with your triple wisdom!
Type: Lesser
Effect: This invocation allows you to recall a single arcane spell of up to third level after it has been cast for the day.

You will note that these invocations are typed as lesser. I’ll cover greater invocations in a future post. 

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