Creating Grimoires

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abrilt
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Creating Grimoires

Postby abrilt » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:42 pm

I have a bit of a question that I figured I would see about getting an answer here.

I am developing a Legend campaign based in Thieve's World (by Robert Lynn Asprin) but I am tweating it a bit.

I am working on creating some sorcerous orders - such as The Order of the Blue Star and one of my own creation - the Order of the White Rose (I am re-reading the Black Company series so I stole the name as it was cool...).

I have written them up but when I think about the Grimoires - I find I get stuck.

How many spells are in a Grimoire? All? 5? 10?
What are other people doing? I even notice that the Cults in the book don't specify how many spells are in the Grimoire - so I am just looking for some feedback or ideas.

I don't think this is specifically stated anywhere so this is more of a "how are you handling this?" sort of question.

Thanks!
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mwsasser
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby mwsasser » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:06 pm

I think it comes down to how many you want to have in it. Keep in mind though that most previously listed cults usually only have 4 to 6 in their grimoires. I don't see why it would be an issue for a powerful cult to have 2 different grimoires though. One for lowbies and another for higher access members with different magic.
rust
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby rust » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:27 pm

My Order of Phalanos has a main grimoire with currently 17 spells
often used by the members of the order, some of these spells are
new spells developed by members of the order. Only the leaders
of the order have permanent access to the main grimoire, any new
members are only allowed to copy a few common spells from the
main grimoire into their own personal grimoires, and once they ha-
ve proved their worth they may be allowed to copy other spells, ei-
ther ones needed for a mission in the service of the order or ones
granted as rewards for their service. This way a new member of the
order starts with three or four not very impressive spells, and has to
earn the right to learn more and more powerful spells.
Prime_Evil
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:29 pm

I assume that a typical grimoire contains 1d4+1 spells. A grimoire contains a minimum of 2 spells and a maximum of 5 spells - with an average of 3-4 spells. Based on comments by some of the other people here, I may be a bit stingy with magic though...
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby alex_greene » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:01 pm

The general consensus reached here assumes that "grimoire" here means the complete corpus of magical workings potentially available to adherents of that school of sorcery, e.g. all the spells available to practitioners of, say, the Thelemic, Chaotic, Taoist, Tantric or Kabbalistic schools.

Practically any of them could learn, say, Glow or Form/Set Wood - if they could but discern the formula that could allow them to achieve such effects with the tools and knowledge of their school's grimoire.

The individual tomes and codices in their libraries would contain the formulae other practitioners have already worked out, so any sufficiently motivated student could go to a given library and learn Palsy or Phantom Sight, or Enslave Humanity or Transfer Wound - if the other practitioners ever wrote it down.

Some grimoires might never contain spells anathema to their order; the Bright Order of the Healing Hand might teach Treat Wound and Transfer Wound, but never Extract Heart, Torment or Wrack. Other than that, though, one could find any number of spells within that same grimoire, from Abjure Pain (great for surgery without anaesthesia), Glow (to see the injuries), Regenerate and Restoration, as well as Enhance CON and Enhance DEX - but to get them, you would have to look up the spells in the order's library, containing any number of books which in themselves might hold no more than 1d4+1 individual spells apiece, interspersed with a whole lot of theoretical pieces and scholarly articles on the philosophy behind the sorcery in the grimoire.

If that makes sense.
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strega
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby strega » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:13 pm

You might like to think of a Grimoire as something like one of the musty tomes from Call of Cthulhu where the book might contain a small number of spells hidden amongst sanity blasting concepts and the ravings of mad Arabs.

The Order of the Green Flame jealously hoards the work of Adul-ab Horeth which contains 3 spells amongst pages of less literate work showing half-completed rituals, arcane diagrams, essays on theology and necromancy. It takes lots of study to work out which bits are spells and which are half conceived ideas about the afterlife. After the magus has extracted the text of the spells or rituals they then have to understand and master them, practicing them from the safety of magic circles in case of getting something wrong.

This process separates the true students from the get powerful quick wannabes who will not study and understand the work of the master.
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Guernicus
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby Guernicus » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:06 pm

Actually the Legend concept of Grimoire is a very flexible one (maybe too much).

The CoC "ancient tomes of magic" is a way you can see grimoires.

The Alex approach where a grimoire is a associated with an entire magical tradition is very interesting and colorful. But it potentially offers the sorcerer lots a spells at the cost of only one skill.

And more generally another thing bothers me : if different grimoires represent different understandings of magic, so why can you manipulate all spells with the same skill ?

One approach I'm investigating is to consider Grimoires as a universal classification of Sorcery spells in which you can pick the ones you need to build sorcery traditions.

For examples :
BOOK OF AIR : Abjure Air, Animate Wind, Form/Set Air, Smother, Stench
BOOK OF FIRE : Attract (Fire), Animate Fire, Form/set Fire, Wrack (Fire)
book of healing : Regenerate, Restoration, Treat Wounds, Attract Poison, Transfer Wound, Sense Health
BOOK of INERTIAL FORCE : Damage Resistance, Palsy, Holdfast, Inertial Barrier
BOOK of IMPULSIVE FORCE : Attract missiles, Damage Enhancement, Fly, Wrack (Force), Telekinesis
BOOK OF SPACE AND TIME : Banish, Mystic Vision, Teleport,Haste, Hinder
BOOK Of PHANTASMS : Animate Darkness, Phantom sight, Phantom Sound, Phantom Smell, Phantom Taste, Phantom Touch
BOOK of MIND MASTERY : Dominate Human, Tap INT, Tap POW, Tap CHA, Diminish INT, Diminish POW, Diminish CHA
... and so on.

In this kind of classification, grimoires are preferably disjoints but can overlap a bit it is coherent.
A sorcery tradition gives access up to 3 different grimoires.

So there are two different levels : a universal classification of spells (Grimoires) based on a shared magical theory and sorcery traditions which can be very different and have opposite approaches of magic (but using the same underlying theory).
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:09 pm

Guernicus wrote:The Alex approach where a grimoire is a associated with an entire magical tradition is very interesting and colorful. But it potentially offers the sorcerer lots a spells at the cost of only one skill.
I assume that a grimoire contains a large amount of supplementary material covering how to manipulate the spells contained in therein - which is one reason that a grimoire containing only 4 or 5 spells can produce such a weighty tome! Keep in mind that the goal of "enlightened" sorcerers will be knowledge rather than raw power, it is likely that a grimoire will also contain a lengthy discussion of the theory behind each spell.
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby alex_greene » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:56 pm

Imagine two mages. Alarvin has Grimoire (The Green Book of Life) and Grimoire (The Book of Luminescent Power), and Bormoran has Grimoire (The Book of Luminescent Power) only. While exploring, they stumble upon a Glow spell inscribed on a wall in inscribed symbols drawn from The Freen Book of Life. Bormoran knows Glow, and Alarvin does not. In fact, until Alarvin sees the Glow spell inscription, he had no idea that his Grimoire could do this spell.

So while Bormoran knows Glow, he can't understand the inscription - and even if he did, spending weeks studying it until an Improvement Roll could open his Grimoire (The Green Book of Life), it would not avail him any since he already knows Glow from his other Grimoire at a higher percentage.

Alarvin comes back to his brethren in the Order of the Green Book and demonstrates how to use the inscriptions from his Grimoire - the symbols and precepts - to create a Glow spell. Pretty soon afterwards, the chantry stops buying candles.

"The Alex approach." :D Makes me sound like a series of self-help books ...
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camocoffey
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby camocoffey » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:24 am

In our Warhammer Old World campaign, my sorcerer is a student of the Jade College, and has access to a handful of nature and healing spells. As he has progressed, he's managed to add a couple of new spells to this Grimoire, but any others would probably be considered amongst the deeper secrets of his order, and so would require the development of a new Grimoire skill. He's also begun study into a new Grimoire, from which he has learned some stealth spells from the Grey College.

Our assumption is that most grimoires are incomplete and, whereas each book when whole might have up to a dozen spells, few sorcerers know half that many. Moreover, any given spell will almost certainly be found in several different grimoires, typically with cosmetic alterations, depending on each school's particular philosophy of magic. At the very least, where we have College's defined by their respective colour, that colour will likely be evident in our different interpretations of each spell; if I cast Mystic Vision, I would probably see the target's aura glowing green, while my friend the bright mage would perceive an orange aura instead.
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Re: Creating Grimoires

Postby alex_greene » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:34 am

camocoffey wrote:At the very least, where we have College's defined by their respective colour, that colour will likely be evident in our different interpretations of each spell; if I cast Mystic Vision, I would probably see the target's aura glowing green, while my friend the bright mage would perceive an orange aura instead.
The thing about auras is that the aura colours are pretty much consistent from viewer to viewer, and independent of the Grimoire used to cast Mystic Vision or other aura reading spells. An aura flaring red would appear that way whether the Mystic Vision was cast from the Jade Grimoire or the Grimoire of the Grey College.
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