Saturday, August 3, 2019

On the Ecology of Bugs and Spells

One of the important ideas in my take on Yoon Suin is that magic is *so valuable* that people will go to great lenght to get it, slugmen and humans alike.  So if a would-be magic user can't hack it as a wizard, they will try all sorts of "alternative routes" to get to that magical power - things like alchemy, figmentalism, or golemology.  Others learn magical crafts that are passed down within families, like kojo-making amongst the Lamarakhi.  So for every proper wizard you have a bunch of summoners, weird priests and the like.  

That can be a challenge, rule wise, but it doesn't have to be.  The GLOG has many strengths, and one of them is that creating a new class is very easy.  So if you - or your player! - has a cool idea, you can create a class for it, or adapt one from the web (there are a LOT of Glog classes out there, and their creators would be delighted if you use them). One such interesting class is the Bug Collector.  Go read it to fully appreciate it, but basically it's a spell-caster adjacent class that uses bugs to generate magical-ish effects.  

On the GLOG discord server, this class came up and was discussed.  How did this *work* really.  Were the bugs just like spells?  Did it "merge" well with the GLOG's main spellcasting system used by wizards?  (In brief: spells are not techniques, they are beings made of ideas and spirit stuff.  A wizard brain's is used to wield these beings.  Arnold's K class poked fun at the concept a bit).

So how can we fit this bug collector idea into the GLOG "spell ecology" principles?  How on earth is a bug collector getting magic out of *bugs?!?*

Easy.  Bugs are spellcasters.  How else could a bumblebee fly?  The water flea breathe under water?  The worm swim through the earth?  Magic that is it.  Insects are symbiotic beings, a tiny body of brittle flesh with various spells riding along.  All the bug collector is doing is forcing bugs to use their magics for the bug collector's benefit.

And that is why the world is so full of magic - bugs are everywhere, carrying their spells and flinging them around mindlessly to perform their buggy tasks.  Wizards find this idea offensive and preposterous - but they are wrong.  Only the best of the bug collectors have grasped what is going on, and are better for it.  

The alchemist may think of his potion having medicinal properties because of the mercury and gem dust he put in it, but he's wrong.  It's the honey added for flavor that is the source of potency - all those spells of food and royalty (the hands of the king are the hands of a healer).  Wine has magic, because it's made by yeast who wields tiny spells to brew and ferment.  Naphtha is full of spells that have rotted under the earth for eons, closer to Hell for a near eternity, and the spirit of Fire has leached into them.  

But what does his mean, on a grander scale?  That bugs have so many spells, and humans so little?  Why is this so? It's because the mind is almost like a spell and it crowds out other spells.  And THAT idea has consequences!  Such as:

1:  Wizards have poor judgement because they made holes in their mind to make room for spells.

2:  The mind is almost a spell, but not quite because it needs a meatsack to keep it going.  But then... is that true?  Is the soul a spell?  Is the body a "meat magical item", a peculiar wand?  Necromancy - raising a zombie - is like a human's crude imitation of nature, puting a not quite soul in a not quite body, geting not quite life.  Furthermore, if the Soul just a kind of spells, (or spells are a kind of souls) there are all sorts of grand cosmological consequences to this too.

3:  The more intelligent an animal is, the less magic it has.  This is why birds are magical, but most of them not as much as bugs.  Also, why there are so many stupid wizards (even prior to making holes in their minds).

3b:  Perhaps the ability to cast spells for humans is dependent on an illness which makes holes in your brain.  

4:  3b has given me *ideas* about the origins of Ogre Mages - more to come :)

5: Metals have no magic at all.  But metals have properties.  Copper conducts electricity.  Arsenic is poisonous.  Not because they are magical, but because they do for actual valid reasons that you would know, had you paid more attention to in chemistry class that is.  And I suppose you could *add* magic to metal, it just never has spells to begin with. 

It was pointed out to me that once the players discover this, they may want to use this - have the PCs get poison magic out of wasps for example.  But that's ok, they aren't very good at it... and if they want to be, so be it!  Let them take levels of bug collector, or candle mage, bird witch, summoner, whatever is fun and vaguely balanced!

Many thanks go to the GLOG Discord collective for ideas and commentary, notably Madilynn for planting the question in my mind, for pointing out how potent honey could be, and thoughts on adventurer behavior.

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