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StevenGEmsley

Anyone have any in-play experience with John Snead's 'Enlightened Magic?'

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Here's the item in question

I GM mainly historically-based games (Renaissance Deluxe being my usual weapon of choice) - very much low fantasy, but I do like to have some subtle magic in play.  I came across Enlightened Magic: Sorcery & Alchemy Rules Based on Western Occult Traditions, and it reads well but does anyone have any experience of using it in play?  Magic can be quite complex, once you start taking into account the seasons, day of the week (even hours of the day if you want to drill down that far), location, rituals and magical connections, even the colour of clothes your character is wearing!

Just wondered how much use a system like this sees at the table.

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It's been a while but we ran Snead's rules in a low magic fantasy setting from 2015 to 2017. Worked great but the players really need to do some reading. I had thought about making a double sided quick reference document (and I think its a good idea) but I have been too lazy. I am likely to get this done some day as I am preparing a modern horror game that will eventually use those rules again.,

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I have used other magic rules of his, in other games.  I bought that book specifically to get his take on the topic for BRP...would not have bought it from any other author (well... OK, would also have bought Greg Stafford's take on the topic).

I have a really profound respect for Mr. Snead's magic-rules for RPGs, in case that isn't clear!

That said... I haven't had a game that implemented them, so I do not actually know how they play at the table.

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So far it's been more of an inspiration than something I've actually gotten on the table.
Watching A Dark Song recently brought it to mind and I could see using it in some sort of occult espionage game, covens vs. covens or somesuch... but lately all anyone wants me to do is run D&D.

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I've adapted the Enlightened Alchemy rules for my mix-and-match BRP-oid homebrew (used for running a tweaked version of The Enemy Within campaign originally for Warhammer FRP). Seems to work well so far, but we've only used the more basic stuff yet. By far my favourite of the various rules for alchemy I've come across. The only weakness is IIRC there's no guidelines at all for rarity or cost of ingredients. 

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4 hours ago, Theo75 said:

... The only weakness is IIRC there's no guidelines at all for rarity or cost of ingredients. 

IMHO, that's mostly a matter for the GM/campaign, rather than something that SHOULD be pinned down in the rules.

If the campaign would benefit from a Rare Ingredient Quest, then make it so; if the PCs got a big pile of cash and you need them to have a hardscrabble lifestyle for some plot-oriented reason, drain their cash into a 5ct flawless diamond; etc etc etc.

OTOH, if it's just some cool and flavorful rules to give them entree to some new power(s), then make it easier.

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John Snead... that name rang a bell. So I looked at my bookshelf and there it was:  Liber Ka, Authentic Western Ceremonial Sorcery for the Nephilim Roleplaying Game by John R. Snead, published in 1997 by Chaosium. It covers casual, ritual, and high magick, and practically reworked the original sorcery system of Nephilim’s core rules from scratch. I guess this book is as close as historical authentic sorcery gets  applied to BRP/D100 rules. Might be a tad difficult to find by now, though*.

Another favorite go-to book of mine back in the day was Authentic Thaumaturgy by Isaac Bonewits, published in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games. It’s rules agnostic (i.e. not related to GURPS in any way), covers a wide range of topics, and—that’s the good news—it’s still available in PDF.

Alas, as for in-game experience using the Laws of Magic... I always found topics like Magick, Kabbalah and Sephiroth, or Tarot to be fascinating to use in a game, yet difficult to sell to players in their entirety. Even if the non-fiction occult stuff fulfills an important purpose in play (e.g., dramatically, narratively, historically, or mechanically), it’s easy for the „uninitiated“ to miss or don’t get the finer points and zone out. This kind of stuff is supposed to be subtle, after all. Except Alchemy. Alchemy is a solid, down to Earth (ha!) approach of manifesting magical principles. It might even lead to funny little side-quests like „hunt for the other kidney“ (channeling Pratchett here).

In any way,

Blesséd be!

 

————— 

*) It would be soooo cool to have all of the old Nephilim books be made available in PDF. I‘d surely kickstart it!

Edited by foolcat
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14 minutes ago, foolcat said:

Another favorite go-to book of mine back in the day was Authentic Thaumaturgy by Isaac Bonewits, published in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games. It’s rules agnostic (i.e. not related to GURPS in any way), covers a wide range of topics, and—that’s the good news—it’s still available in PDF.

A book that traces its origin to the early days of Chaosium, in fact!

I enjoy the book thoroughly (almost -- Bonewits, for all his spiritual open-mindedness, regularly engages in needless temporal snark), but I've considered the prospect of employing his mathematical formulae in play too daunting.

Honestly, I reckon that "authentic" magic(k)al practice has to rank close to "true" religion, which is doubly amusing within the context of Nephilim and the assumption that humankind is fundamentally living inside Plato's cave.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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On 9/24/2019 at 6:55 PM, g33k said:

IMHO, that's mostly a matter for the GM/campaign, rather than something that SHOULD be pinned down in the rules.

If the campaign would benefit from a Rare Ingredient Quest, then make it so; if the PCs got a big pile of cash and you need them to have a hardscrabble lifestyle for some plot-oriented reason, drain their cash into a 5ct flawless diamond; etc etc etc.

OTOH, if it's just some cool and flavorful rules to give them entree to some new power(s), then make it easier.

Well, yeah, obviously, much like each GM should really write their own equipment/price lists for their worlds. Still, it's nice to at least have an example in support for that. 

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On 9/24/2019 at 11:10 PM, Ian Absentia said:

I enjoy the book thoroughly (almost -- Bonewits, for all his spiritual open-mindedness, regularly engages in needless temporal snark), but I've considered the prospect of employing his mathematical formulae in play too daunting.

Sure, but the merit of this part of the book is that it gives a consistent and (pseudo-)scientific way to determine magic costs or difficulty, even though it needs to be simplified a lot.

Of course, computing the total energy needed to lift an object is not fun at all and I don't want to do it (and it's something I could do without refering to this book anyway). But, at least, I have a (pseudo-)scientifically method to judge how TK needs to be more taxing than telepathy or mental domination.

Edited by Mugen

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6 hours ago, Theo75 said:

Well, yeah, obviously, much like each GM should really write their own equipment/price lists for their worlds. Still, it's nice to at least have an example in support for that. 

I seem to have been unclear.

General gear/price lists are a good thing, if your campaign is going to follow the model of bringing loot back from adventures to buy more/better adventuring gear.

 

I am suggesting that Alchemy is different from other "gear."  That just by having "list prices," it sets an expectation of mundane market-driven availability; whereas this stuff should IMHO mostly be quested-for, not available at any market rate.  Plot points, story elements, McGuffins, what-have-you.  Sure, you may end up "buying" the thing in some obscure market, from a bespectacled eccentric vendor; and the price may end up being trivial (or not) ... but finding that market, that vendor; learning how to make the approach so s/he will get the not-on-display item from the back room... THAT's the "cost."  Also stories.

If mundane availability -- for cash, for sale -- is a desired feature, I will suggest that each GM should decide how available they want each alchemical formula  for their game, and set it for their table (and the wealth available to the characters)... again, without regard to any "price list" set by the author.


Either way, I suggest that including an a priori "price list" is more of a problem than not (for alchemy specifically, that is).

 

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